29th April saw the launch of a new network for alcohol policy researchers in Ireland and the UK.

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

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

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

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

Niamh Fitzgerald, Professor of Alcohol Policy at Stirling’s Institute for Social Marketing and Health added: “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.”

ACORN will run a series of public events focused on its four key themes, including a research conference.

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