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Could Harm From Drinking be Lowered if Products Had a Lower Alcohol Content?

harm from drinking and lower alcohol contentResearchers who performed a review have determined that the harm from drinking could be reduced if alcoholic products had a lower overall alcohol content. According to the World Health Organization one out of four deaths each year for individuals between 20 and 39 is alcohol related. If ethanol in alcoholic drinks was reduced then this would result in lower blood alcohol levels in users, and that could lower both immediate and long term harm that alcohol can cause. According to lead review author and Director of the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health or CAMH in Toronto, Canada Dr. Jürgen Rehm “The idea is that a small reduction in alcohol —such as beer with four percent ethanol content versus six percent —would reduce alcohol intake per drinker even if the same overall amount of beverage is consumed.”

Lowering the alcohol content to reduce the harm from drinking has caused some to voice concern that consumers will simply choose higher alcohol content brands and products, but according to Dr. Rehm these concerns are not based in fact. “We know from experiments that consumers can’t distinguish between beers of different strengths. The proposal presents a unique situation, where public health interests in reducing alcohol consumption is not in conflict with the alcohol industry.” Many feel that the alcohol industry must shoulder some responsibility for the high rate of alcohol harm caused. Higher taxes, more restricted access, and even restrictions on marketing alcoholic products has not been sufficient to bring the high rate of death associated with alcohol down significantly.

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