Sometimes government really is here to help

Heng Jiang (La Trobe U), Richard Chenhall (Uni Melbourne) and colleagues wondered whether government policies on alcohol and tobacco can reduce cancer cases

So, they looked at decades of Australian data. They found many years after random breath testing and campaigns against smoking reduced consumption of alcohol and tobacco, mortality rates for some cancers declined.  While the paper has a quiver of cautions and qualifications, the authors conclude, “the results support the proposition that key public health policies that control alcohol and tobacco consumption are effective in reducing cancer mortality in the long term.”

Their research is here.

This compares with US research into why opiod addiction is worse in some states than others. In a paper for the marvellous National Bureau of Economic Research, Abby E. Alpert and colleagues looked at marketing of opiod medication, Oxycontin beginning in 1996, in states where doctorsare required to write a triple prescription for it (doctor’s files, pharmacy, a record for government). They find such states, “saw substantially slower growth in overdose deaths, continuing even twenty years after OxyContin’s introduction.”


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