Alcohol policy priorities in Australia have been set by the Preventative Health Task Force, yet significant reform has not occurred. Public health experts aware of these priorities are not reported as in agreement in news media discussions and Government has not adequately supported the legislative recommendations made. We investigate policy experts’ views on alcohol policy priorities with a view to establishing levels of accord and providing suggestions for future advocates.
We conducted semi-structured in depth interviews with alcohol policy experts and advocates around Australia. Open-ended questions examined participants’ thoughts on existing policy recommendations, obvious policy priorities and specifically, the future of national reforms to price and promotions policies. All transcripts were analysed for major themes and points of agreement or disagreement.
Twenty one alcohol policy experts agreed that pricing policies are a top national priority and most agreed that “something should be done” about alcohol advertising. Volumetric taxation and minimum pricing were regarded as the most important price policies, yet differences emerged in defining the exact form of a proposed volumetric tax. Important differences in perspective emerged regarding alcohol promotions, with lack of agreement about the likely form regulations should take, where to start and who the policy should be directed at. Very few discussed online advertising and social networks.
Despite existing policy collaborations, a clear ‘cut through’ message is yet to be repeatedly endorsed by all alcohol control advocates. There is a need to articulate in greater detail the specifics of policy reforms to minimum pricing, volumetric taxation and restrictions on alcohol advertising, particularly regarding sporting sponsorships and new media.