Banning beer would be the most efficient way to bring down Australia’s murder rate, a recent study Population drinking and homicide in Australia: A time series analysis of the period 1950–2003 suggests.

In a review of homicides over 53 years it was found that many were strongly linked to alcohol, and especially beer consumption.

National data reviewed from 1950 to 2003 found that for every one-litre increase per capita in alcohol drunk was followed by an 8% rise in rates of males dying by homicide and a 6% rise in female deaths by homicide.

“The present results suggest that population drinking and specifically beer consumption have clearly influenced post-war trends in Australian homicide rates, in particular among men,” said researcher Dr Mats Ramstedt (PhD).

The study found that “Australia belongs to the group of countries where lowering population drinking is likely to be associated with lower homicide rates and reducing beer consumption seems to be the most efficient way to achieve this”.

Dr Ramstedt also noted that Australia had been described as “a binge-drinking-orientated drinking culture”.

“A more detailed regional comparison shows that the Australian estimates remind most of the region denoted Mid-Europe (including Ireland, Germany and the UK) whereas estimates are lower than for Northern Europe (e.g. Sweden and Finland) and somewhat larger than for Southern Europe (e.g. France and Italy).”

In another Melbourne based study, Access to alcohol outlets and harmful alcohol consumption: a multi-level study in Melbourne, Australia, researchers found that in areas where alcohol outlets were high and close together there was evidence to support the notion that there were higher levels of harmful alcohol consumption in those areas and the surrounding local areas.

The findings supported policies to restrict outlet numbers in communities that consumed large amounts of alcohol, “The number of off-premises alcohol outlets in a locality is associated with the level of harmful alcohol consumption in that area. Reducing the number of off-premises alcohol outlets could reduce levels of harmful alcohol consumption”.

Writer Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha.
Source: Drug and Alcohol Review 2011; 30:466-72. Addiction 2011; 106:1772-79.