The rapid literaure review identified both opportunities and threats to improved health through the increased availability of lower strength alcohol. The report suggests that if lower strength drinks result in 'substitution' for higher strength drinks there can be potential public health benefits. However it also identifies 'addition' as a likely affect, whereby lower strength drinks result in an increased number of situations where alcohol is consumed. The report concludes that encouraging production and consumption of lower alcohol products in a single product category is unlikely to maximise effects on population level harms.
In 2010 the Treasury announced beer duty changes designed to help 'tackle problem drinking'. The changes were intended to 'encourage the production and consumption of lower strength beers' whilst 'addressing the consumption of cheap, super-strength lagers'. Earlier this year it was reported that several popular lagers including Stella Artois would be reduced in strength from 5% ABV to 4.8%. The move will save producers AB inbev millions of pounds in duty.
The Department of Health has published a list of partners who have signed up to remove '1bn units of alcohol sold annually from the market by 2015 principally through improving consumer choice of lower alcohol products'. The move is part of the Government's alcohol Responsibility Deal.