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Trends in purchasing cross-border, illicit and home-brewed alcohol: A population study in Great Britain, 2020–2023

Jackson, Sarah E; Oldham, Melissa; Angus, Colin; Holmes, John; Brown, James; (2024) Trends in purchasing cross-border, illicit and home-brewed alcohol: A population study in Great Britain, 2020–2023. Drug and Alcohol Review 10.1111/dar.13838. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Introduction: The last 3 years have seen substantial changes in Great Britain (GB) including the COVID-19 pandemic, cost-of-living crisis and policy changes such as minimum unit pricing. We examined changes in purchasing cross-border, illicit and home-brewed alcohol among risky drinkers over this period. // Methods: Data were used from 22,086 adult (≥18 years) increasing/higher-risk drinkers (AUDIT-C ≥5) participating in a monthly cross-sectional survey between October 2020 and August 2023. We estimated time trends in the proportion reporting obtaining alcohol from: (i) cross-border (any/within-GB/international); (ii) illicit; and (iii) home-brewed sources in the past 6 months. // Results: Between October 2020 and August 2023, the proportion reporting cross-border alcohol purchases increased (from 8.5% to 12.5% overall; prevalence ratio [PR] = 1.47 [95% CI 1.17–1.86]). This was largely driven by an increase in cross-border purchases abroad (PR = 1.52 [1.13–2.05]), with a smaller, uncertain increase in cross-border purchases within GB (PR = 1.37 [0.96–1.95]). The prevalence of cross-border alcohol purchasing was higher in Wales (13.8% [12.3–15.4%]) and Scotland (6.1% [5.4–6.8%]) than England (3.6% [3.3–3.9%]). There was little change in illicit alcohol purchasing in England or Wales (4.1% [3.7–4.4%]; 4.2% [3.2–5.1%]), but in Scotland it fell from 5.7% to 2.4% (PR = 0.42 [0.19–0.81]). Home-brewed alcohol was rare (GB: 3.1% [2.9–3.4]) and stable. // Discussion and Conclusions: The proportion of increasing/higher-risk drinkers in GB purchasing cross-border alcohol increased between October 2020 and August 2023, due to an increase in people buying alcohol abroad. Cross-border alcohol purchases within GB were more commonly reported in Wales and Scotland. The small proportion purchasing illicit alcohol did not change substantially in England or Wales, but fell by half in Scotland.

Type: Article
Title: Trends in purchasing cross-border, illicit and home-brewed alcohol: A population study in Great Britain, 2020–2023
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/dar.13838
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/dar.13838
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2024 The Authors. Drug and Alcohol Review published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: Alcohol; cross-border; duty free; home-brew; illicit
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Behavioural Science and Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10188152
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