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No- and low-alcohol drinks: Potential and pitfalls for public health

April 24th 2024
- 14:00

The second seminar of the 2024 Alcohol Occasionals was delivered by Professor Niamh Fitzgerald and Professor John Holmes on Wednesday 24 March.


No- and low-alcohol (no/lo) drinks have become increasingly popular with consumers in recent years and the UK Government is committed to growing the no/lo market. No/lo drinks may have substantial health benefits if used in place of standard alcoholic drinks, but public health actors are concerned about risks including surrogate marketing, policy substitution and harmful effects on vulnerable groups.


This seminar (i) discussed the pathways to benefits or risk for public health arising from the rise in no/lo drinks in the UK; (ii) presented new quantitative data on trends and social patterns in sales, purchasing and consumption of no/lo drinks and (iii) argued for a unified public health response to no/lo drinks.


John Holmes (@JHolmesSheff) is a Professor of Alcohol Policy at the University of Sheffield and Director of the Sheffield Addictions Research Group. After completing degrees in Social Policy at the University of York, he joined the Sheffield Centre for Health and Related Research (SCHARR) at the University of Sheffield in 2010. Since then he has contributed epidemiological and policy analyses to public health debates around alcohol. This includes the key evidence that underpinned the implementation of minimum unit pricing (MUP) in several countries and the development of new low risk drinking guidelines in the UK and Australia. He is currently co-Director of the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Addictions and leads major projects evaluating the public health impact of no- and low-alcohol drinks and reforms to UK alcohol taxation during the cost-of-living crisis. John is a member of the OHID Alcohol Advisory Group and works with stakeholders across the UK and internationally to advise on evidence relating to alcohol policy.


Niamh Fitzgerald (@niamhcreate) is a Professor of Alcohol Policy and Director of the Institute for Social Marketing and Health at University of Stirling (Twitter: @ismh_uos). Niamh is Deputy Director of the SPECTRUM (Shaping public health policies to reduce inequalities and harm) research consortium (2019-2024), with responsibility for impact, knowledge exchange and public engagement. Niamh specialises in mixed methods alcohol policy research with interests in retail premises licensing, minimum unit pricing, no/low alcohol products, framing and public communication on alcohol and managing commercial interactions. She is currently co-leading a statutory independent review of the alcohol licensing system in Northern Ireland. Niamh is recognised internationally for her work on alcohol brief interventions, having advised WHO-Europe, Public Health Scotland and several European governments. Niamh has served on the Public Health Alcohol Research Group appointed by the Minister for Health in Ireland and currently sits on the committee of the Kettil Bruun Society and the OHID Alcohol Advisory Group.

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