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On 29th April, a new network for alcohol policy researchers in the UK and Ireland was officially launched.

Led by the University of Stirling’s Professor Niamh Fitzgerald and Trinity College Dublin’s Professor Joe Barry, the Alcohol Research Network UK-Ireland (ACORN) will act as a forum for a new, interdisciplinary approach to reducing harm caused by alcohol consumption.

Founding members of the network come from seven universities in the UK and five in Ireland. By harnessing the knowledge and expertise of academics across the network, researchers hope to benefit from collaboration and shared learning as they consider the alcohol-related cultural, social, political and economic challenges faced by the UK and Ireland.

Niamh Fitzgerald, Professor of Alcohol Policy at Stirling’s Institute for Social Marketing and Health explained: “Despite historically being the domain of clinicians, alcohol is embedded in and affected by a range of cultural, social and societal influences that need to be considered if we’re to successfully reduce its harms among populations. This new network will be open to researchers from all disciplines, working across Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.”

The group has identified four key themes: alcohol availability, pricing, marketing and alcohol policymaking. The network believes that the first three reflect the most effective approaches to reducing harm caused by alcohol.

Joe Barry, Adjunct Professor of Population Health Medicine at Trinity College Dublin noted that: “Culture, norms and consumption patterns around alcohol in the UK and Ireland are very similar.”

The network plans to run a series of public events focused on its four themes, including a research conference.

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