Public support for alcohol policies associated with knowledge of cancer risk

Penny Buykx*, Conor Gilligan, Bernadette Ward, Rebecca Kippen, Kathy Chapman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)



Several options are advocated by policy experts to mitigate alcohol-related harms, although the most effective strategies often have the least public support. While knowledge of tobacco-related health risks predicts support for relevant public health measures, it is not known whether knowledge of alcohol health risks is similarly associated with the acceptability of policies intended to reduce alcohol consumption and related harms. This study aims to gauge public support for a range of alcohol policies and to determine whether or not support is associated with knowledge of a long-term health risk of alcohol consumption, specifically cancer. 


2482 adults in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, participated in an online survey. Logistic regression analysis was used to examine the association between demographic data, alcohol consumption, smoking status, knowledge of alcohol as a risk factor for cancer and support for alcohol-related policies. 


Most participants were supportive of health warnings, restricting access to internet alcohol advertising to young people, and requiring information on national drinking guidelines on alcohol containers. Almost half of participants supported a ban on sport sponsorship, while less than 41% supported price increases, volumetric taxation, or reducing the number of retail outlets. Only 47% of participants identified drinking too much alcohol as a risk factor for cancer. Knowledge of alcohol as a risk factor for cancer was a significant predictor of support for all policies, while level of alcohol consumption had a significant inverse relationship with policy support. 


The finding that support for alcohol management policies is associated with awareness that drinking too much alcohol may contribute to cancer could assist in the planning of future public health interventions. Improving awareness of the long term health risks of alcohol consumption may be one avenue to increasing public support for effective alcohol harm-reduction policies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-379
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes


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