Selected media stories since the February roundup:
The question of 'Is moderate drinking good for the heart?' returned to the headlines following new research finding non-drinkers were more likely to need treatment for certain cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, heart failure and angina, compared to people who drank alcohol within the previous weekly guidelines of 21 and 14 units per week for men and women. An NHS 'behind the headlines' analysis though emphasised such studies cannot prove alcohol consumption or lack of it is a direct cause of cardiovascular disease as non-drinkers were more likely to be from deprived areas, to have diabetes or be obese.
Can red wine help ageing was another news story fact-checked by behind the headlines. The study found less evidence of age-related changes in mice given an resveratrol-enriched diet, a substance found to varying degrees in red wine. More importantly perhaps, the study found a low-calorie diet seems to slow age-related changes in muscles and nerves.
Research by the University of Nottingham has suggested that video game images and references to alcohol and tobacco influence teenagers' behaviour, and that video game rating and age restrictions are not working effectively. Digital Journal
The Mirror reported on the policy questions over white cider following the death of 16 year old Megan Craig-Wilkinson who died in February after drinking 7.5 per alcohol 'Frosty Jack's'. The story highlighted a question to the Prime Minister about the products and although the spring budget did not take direct action as per health campaigners calls, a consultation is now under way.
The Guardian reported on cuts to public health budgets responsible for alcohol services such as hospital alcohol liaison nurses, saying that in 2015-16, 46% of local authorities implemented cuts in alcohol services, and this has risen to 72% for 2016-17.
Children are exposed to "unacceptably high levels" of alcohol marketing through sports sponsorship and public adverts, according to Alcohol Focus Scotland, which said there was "clear evidence" that exposure to alcohol marketing led children to start drinking at a younger age. BBC
Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe has criticised a "vacuum" in national alcohol policy, particularly following David Cameron's infamous u-turn on minimum pricing. The Labour peer stated alcohol is 60% more affordable today than it was in 1980.
MailOnline rounded up some arguments for and against extending plain packaging to alcohol, asking "Will plain packaging on alcohol and sugar really make us healthier?" Tobacco plain packaging comes into force in May.
Public Health England has awarded a three-year contract to expand Mentor UK’s Alcohol and Drug Education and Prevention Information Service (ADEPIS) programme in schools and community settings. LocalGov
The Local Government Association and all fire and rescue authorities in England and Wales called for the current drink drive limit to be lowered from 80mg to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. The Scottish Government reduced its legal limit for drivers to 50mg in December 2014 and Northern Ireland will also soon drop its limit to the same level, and even lower for professional and learner drivers. Independent
Alcohol industry & beverages
Heineken is moving into the alcohol-free category for the first time in the UK and predicting the sector could double in size over the next three to four years. The alcohol-free category currently only represents about a 1% share of the off-trade beer market, with AB InBev’s Beck’s Blue being the dominant brand. No-alcohol beers are more common on the Continent, holding a 10% share of the Spanish beer market, reports Talking Retail.
A return to the news of the issue of alcohol mixed with energy drinks - or 'AmED' as this Guardian piece asking 'Is a Jägerbomb more dangerous than a gin and tonic?' referred to them as. It highlights a significant increase in energy drink consumption but limitations in the research around the various associated risks.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has introduced the Alcohol Wholesale Registration Scheme as an attempt to crack down on alcohol fraud, which is estimated to lose HMRC £1.2 billion worth of duty and VAT every year. The Caterer
Cans of Tennent’s lager will be the first in the UK to carry new guidelines recommending adults do not consume more than 14 units of alcohol a week, reported the Courier. (Pictured: Alan Hay, sales director at Tennent’s and the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland Dr. Catherine Calderwood)
The price of alcohol (in pubs) could be about to go up significantly as businesses struggle with the rising cost of business rates, reported Metro
The British Chamber of Shipping, which represents cross-Channel ferry operators, said that duty free will be "automatically" introduced on cross-channel ferries if Britain leaves the customs union, putting an end to rules abolishing duty free for travel between European Union countries, and bringing a return of the "booze cruise". Telegraph