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The Politics of AlcoholA History of the Drink Question in England$
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James Nicholls

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780719077050

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719077050.001.0001

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Prevention and health: alcohol and public health

Prevention and health: alcohol and public health

(p.199) 14 Prevention and health: alcohol and public health
The Politics of Alcohol

James Nicholls

Manchester University Press

The introduction of breath tests and statutory blood alcohol limits for drivers meant that, for the first time, the police had a quantifiable definition of drunkenness to work with and the powers to ascertain with precision, in legal terms at least, whether someone was guilty of posing a public risk through their insobriety. Drink-driving legislation was first introduced under the Road Traffic Act of 1930. The development of the psychiatric models of alcoholism contributed to the fragmentation of the drink question in that they tended to isolate problem drinking from wider political questions around the relationship between sobriety, intoxication, and social order. This tendency was not absolute, however, and those promoting public health approaches to alcoholism were well aware that while treatment may be driven by psychiatry, local conditions — family, work, built environment — were key contributory factors. Unit-based definitions of sensible drinking would, eventually, become established across the range of interest groups surrounding alcohol use.

Keywords:   public health, breath tests, drunkenness, drink-driving, problem drinking, sensible drinking, sobriety, intoxication, social order, alcoholism

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