Issue 47 / 12 December 2011

IN keeping with tradition, the Christmas double issue of the MJA, although heavier to carry, takes a lighter approach than usual. In it you can read about some of the issues — serious and less so — that can affect our enjoyment of the festive season.

The downsides of alcohol consumption are accentuated at Christmas time, especially for teenagers and young adults. The finding by researchers that the introduction of the alcopops tax did not significantly alter the number of alcohol-related harms in young people seems surprising.

But the authors reflect on several plausible explanations for their findings; the most convincing is that raising the price of only one type of alcohol does not reduce overall alcohol consumption.

A letter to the journal demands the urgent reform of alcohol taxation and pricing, and laments the omission of this issue from the Australian Government national tax forum held in Canberra in October. As the authors say, “too many Australians drink too much alcohol too often”.

They argue that it is well established that the most effective method of alcohol control is to increase the price of all alcohol through volumetric taxation.

We know that about 80% of alcohol consumed by people aged 14–24 years is done at risky or high-risk levels for acute harm. Alcohol is implicated in more than 60 medical conditions including cancer and almost one in four road fatalities.

We have an obligation to protect our youth that we are yet to completely meet.

We continue our Christmas custom of publishing articles on “bites and stings” with an interesting editorial on dog bites in children and their prevention, and research on an approach to rabies vaccination for Australian travellers.

A case report on propeller and jet-ski injuries during the Christmas season may dampen your enthusiasm for motorised water sports.

For the keen fisherpeople in our profession, case reports on ocular injuries from fishing may make you consider including safety goggles for your tackle box on your Christmas wish list.

Read “Christmas Crackers” for a light-hearted take on some serious issues. An account of the suffering endured from self-inflicted mushroom poisoning may lead the mycophagists among you to add “be wary of ingesting wild mushrooms” to your catalogue of Christmas cautions.

The winners of this year’s Christmas competition, with an article on wife carrying, recommend a novel method of getting more exercise. Something to consider as an alternative to the traditional postprandial snooze on Christmas Day!

I wish you moderation in all good things, a hearty dose of Penguinius collectionavidus infection, and a happy, healthy and restful festive season.

Thank you for your support this year. We at the MJA look forward to working with you in 2012.

Dr Annette Katelaris is the editor of the MJA.

This article is reproduced from the MJA with permission.

Posted 12 December 2011

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