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

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

Publication date: Mar 21, 2024

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. 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. 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. 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.

Concepts Keywords
3years alcohol
Alcohol cross‐border
Monthly duty free
Pandemic home‐brew
illicit

Semantics

Type Source Name
drug DRUGBANK Ethanol
disease VO population
disease MESH COVID-19 pandemic
disease VO monthly
disease VO time

Original Article

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