Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of policies and programmes to reduce the harm caused by alcohol

Lancet. 2009 Jun 27;373(9682):2234-46. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60744-3.


This paper reviews the evidence for the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of policies and programmes to reduce the harm caused by alcohol, in the areas of education and information, the health sector, community action, driving while under the influence of alcohol (drink-driving), availability, marketing, pricing, harm reduction, and illegally and informally produced alcohol. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses show that policies regulating the environment in which alcohol is marketed (particularly its price and availability) are effective in reducing alcohol-related harm. Enforced legislative measures to reduce drink-driving and individually directed interventions to already at-risk drinkers are also effective. However, school-based education does not reduce alcohol-related harm, although public information and education-type programmes have a role in providing information and in increasing attention and acceptance of alcohol on political and public agendas. Making alcohol more expensive and less available, and banning alcohol advertising, are highly cost-effective strategies to reduce harm. In settings with high amounts of unrecorded production and consumption, increasing the proportion of alcohol that is taxed could be a more effective pricing policy than a simple increase in tax.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Advertising / economics
  • Advertising / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Alcoholic Beverages / economics
  • Alcoholic Beverages / supply & distribution
  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Alcoholism / economics
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / prevention & control*
  • Automobile Driving / education
  • Automobile Driving / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Community Participation / economics
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Global Health*
  • Harm Reduction*
  • Health Education / economics
  • Health Policy / economics*
  • Health Policy / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Health Promotion / economics
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Information Services / economics
  • Politics
  • Program Evaluation
  • School Health Services / economics
  • Social Marketing
  • Taxes / economics
  • Taxes / legislation & jurisprudence