Aussie alcohol-reduction campaign found to be 'world’s most effective'

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Aussie alcohol-reduction campaign found to be 'world’s most effective'
A graphic advertisement showing how alcohol can work its way through the bloodstream and increase the risk of cancer has proved to be the most persuasive commercial of its type. 

Designed to demonstrate that alcohol is carcinogenic, the Western Australian campaign​, named “Spread​”, was found by researchers to be most likely to motivate drinkers to cut down on their drinking in a basic study.

They invited 2,174 regular drinkers to watch three alcohol education adverts, out of a pool of 83 global campaigns, and report back on how motivated each commercial had made them feel to reduce their consumption.

Spread​” ranked as the most persuasive, and performed well across all audience groups, reflecting the views of males and females, younger adults and older adults, and low- and high-risk drinkers.

The research, commissioned by Cancer Council Victoria and published in British Medical Journal Open​, uncovered how alcohol as a carcinogen is still widely unknown in the community, said the non-profit’s chief executive, Todd Harper.

Classified a “Group 1 carcinogen​”, the highest level, there is strong evidence that alcohol causes cancer at some body sites in humans.

Yet a 2015 survey found that less than half of Victorians believed that alcohol had an effect on their risk of cancer.

We know that every drink increases your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, bowel, liver and female breast​,” Harper said.

“More than 3,200 cases of cancer each year in Australia could be prevented if people limited their alcohol consumption.​”

CCV believes that the latest study’s findings should be used to inform future alcohol-reduction campaigns.

"We've seen how effective campaigns around drink driving and short-term harms such as injury or violence have been in terms of changing our drinking habits, but in Victoria and the majority of the rest of Australia, we rarely see the long-term health effects of alcohol portrayed on our screens​," he said.

"This research highlights how effective a campaign like this could be in terms of motivating people to better understand the risks of alcohol consumption​.”

The council now hopes to use “Spread​” in a campaign later in 2017.

MA Wakefield et al.
Features of alcohol harm reduction advertisements that most motivate reduced drinking among adults: an advertisement response study​.”
BMJ Open 2017;7:e014193, doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-014193

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