SARG Director Professor John Holmes will give a talk on no/lo drinks at the Medical Council on Alcohol’s Annual Symposium this week (22.11.23).

His lecture will focus on the potential, pitfalls, and implications for public health policy of no- and low-alcohol drinks.

The rise of no/lo drinks

No- and low-alcohol (no/lo) drinks have become increasingly popular in recent years and now account for around one percent of total alcohol sales and two percent of off-trade beer sales. Further increases in no/lo sales could have a positive impact on public health by reducing alcohol consumption and the associated chronic health problems.

However, there are also concerns that people may consume no/lo drinks in addition to their usual alcoholic drinks, that companies may use alibi marketing to promote familiar alcohol brands, or that no/lo products may blur the distinction between drinking and non-drinking in harmful ways for high-risk groups.

The benefits or risks of no/lo drinks therefore depend on who purchases and consumes these products, the settings in which they consume them, and how that consumption relates to consumption of standard alcoholic drinks. Public health actors need to consider how they can contribute to developing a new policy framework that maximises any benefits of these products while minimising any risks. 

The talk will draw on research being undertaken through the No/Lo Project which examines whether making non-alcoholic or low-alcohol drinks more common and popular in the UK can improve people’s health.

About the symposium

The Medical Council on Alcohol’s Annual Symposium is a key event for health professionals working to reduce alcohol-related health harms. The programme is aimed at clinicians and researchers across a variety of disciplines and specialties, highlighting both new research and policy and practical applications.