What's your poison?

Your body converts alcohol to poison.

Reduce your drinking, to reduce the damage.

Campaign Background

The ‘What’s your poison?’ campaign prompts people to reconsider the common phrase by showing that when a person drinks alcohol, the body converts it to acetaldehyde, a poison.

It explains that every drink converts to more poison, increasing the damage, and increasing the risk of cancer. The campaign calls for Western Australian adults to reduce their drinking to reduce the damage.

The campaign was developed in consultation with over 130 Western Australian adults, guided by experts in public health, research and social marketing, supported by Healthway. 

The 'What's your poison?' campaign is a joint initiative by the Mental Health Commission and Cancer Council WA, and part of the WA Government’s state-wide strategy to prevent and reduce harm caused by alcohol.

Evidence to support the campaign

  • Around one in three adults (33%) who drink alcohol exceed the NHMRC’s Australian Alcohol Guideline.1
  • Nearly two out of three WA adults (63%) who drink above the Guideline consider the amount they drink to be ‘OK’.2 
  • On average, 3 West Australians die from cancer caused by alcohol each week in WA.3
  • The body converts alcohol to acetaldehyde, a poison, which causes damage at the cellular level and can lead to cancer.5,6
  • Even drinking small amounts of alcohol increases your risk of developing cancer. The more you drink and the more often you drink, the greater your risk.7

Key messages

  • Your body converts alcohol to poison.
  • Reduce your drinking to reduce the damage.

Target audience


  • All adults in Western Australia


Campaign objectives 

  1. Increase awareness about how alcohol causes harm to health.
  2. Increase awareness among adults that their current drinking can impact their health.
  3. Increase intention, confidence and self-reported action to reduce alcohol use.

Media strategy

The ‘What’s your poison?’ campaign will be on air from Sunday 4 June 2023 and run for an initial 12 months.

The campaign will be led by state-wide TV, and supported by cinema, radio, out-of-home advertising, digital and social media advertising.

Campaign assets

30 second radio - AFL
30 second radio - Home
30 second radio - BBQ
Download the What's your poison? community toolkit.

  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Measuring risky drinking according to the Australian alcohol guidelines. 2021. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol/measuring-risky-drinking-aus-alcohol-guidelines/contents/measuring-risky-drinking  
  2. Mental Health Commission. Alcohol Attitudinal Research 2022. 2023. [Unpublished]. 
  3. Epidemiology Branch, WA Department of Health. Alcohol-attributable hospitalisation and death data [Unpublished]. 2019
  4. International Agency for Research on Cancer. Personal habits and indoor combustions. Lyon, France: IARC, 2012. https://publications.iarc.fr/Book-And-Report-Series/Iarc-Monographs-On-The-Identification-Of-Carcinogenic-Hazards-To-Humans/Personal-Habits-And-Indoor-Combustions-2012 
  5. Connor J. Alcohol consumption as a cause of cancer. 2017. Addiction. 112(2):222-228. doi: 10.1111/add.13477. Epub 2016 Jul 21. PMID: 27442501.
  6. Cancer Council Victoria. How alcohol causes cancer. Available from: https://www.cancervic.org.au/preventing-cancer/limit-alcohol/how-alcohol-causes-cancer
  7. University of Sydney. Evidence evaluation report: evaluating the evidence on the health effects of alcohol consumption. 2018. Sydney: NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre; https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/attachments/Alcohol/9-evaluation-submitted-health-effects.pdf
  8. “To reduce the risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury, healthy men and women should drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day”.

Page last updated14 November 2023