Levels of drinking have soared one third since the 1980s fuelled by increasing consumption by women, according to a major report which calls for minimum prices for alcohol. Health officials said more working years of life are lost in England as a result of alcohol related deaths than from more than twelve types of cancer combined.
The review by Public Health England suggests that a range of measures, such as minimum pricing and tackling marketing by alcohol firms, could cut the harm caused by drinking. The prime minister’s spokesman said: ‘The government would continue to consider setting limits’ – but insisted that ‘no one wants to interfere with the rights of adults who want to enjoy a drink responsibly.’
Ministers are awaiting the findings of a court case in Scotland where minimum pricing has been proposed. The report shows soaring drinking in recent decades with deaths from liver disease rising by 400 percent since 1970. The study pointed to evidence that ‘setting a minimum price for alcohol can reduce alcohol related harm while saving health care costs.’ One province in Canada, which had put a 10 percent increase on minimum process, saw a 22 percent fall in consumption of high-strength beer with a 10 percent fall in all beers, and reductions of about 6 percent in sprits and 5 per cent for wine.
In 2012 the Scottish parliament passed legislation to introduce a 50p. per unit minimum price for alcohol. This was challenged by the Scotch Whisky Association and is the subject of an ongoing legal case. The Downing Street spokesman said: ‘What this report shows is that clearly abuse of alcohol can cause significant health problems but no one wants to interfere with the rights of adults who want to enjoy a drink responsibly. The issue of minimum unit pricing is under review while we await the outcome of the court case in Scotland.’
PHE’s review of evidence on the harm caused by alcohol examines its impact on health, society and the effect on the economy. It pointed to more than 1 million hospital admissions relating to alcohol each year, half of which occur in the lowest three socio-economic groups. In total, 167, 000 years of working life were lost as a result of alcohol in 2015, according to the figures which calculate how long those under the age of 65 would have lived. It said sales of alcohol in England and Wales have increased by 42 percent in 1980 from roughly 400 million litres in the early 80s with a peak of 567 million litres in 2008. Since then there has been a decline to 533 million litres, meaning that overall sales have increased by one third since the 1980s. The growth has been driven by increased consumption by women, a shift to higher strength products and increasing affordability to alcohol, particularly through the 80s and 90s. Professor Sir Ian Gilmour, Chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK said: ‘Increased duty on the cheapest drinks alongside minimum unit pricing would make a real difference to some of our most vulnerable groups.’
What I find most disturbing is the fact that women are drinking more alcohol, presumably either because they feel an additional stress in our highly competitive society of today, or because young women are encouraged to binge drink by some of their male escorts to soften their sexual resistance.
I find such action inexcusable. It is a most dangerous game to play in all ways possible.