Urgent, no-nonsense and consistent action required to tackle UK booze obsession

Independent Alcohol Strategy launched today: 2020health endorsed and signed the expert led, evidence based alcohol strategy for the UK.

As part of the coalition of 70 health groups and campaigners, 2020health were proud to contribute to the Independent Alcohol Strategy launched today, led by Professor Ian Gilmore of the RCP. In a press release to support the launch, we have commented as below. We hope the government will stop dithering and start making some clear decisions about how to deal with this crisis which not only effects health and healthcare services but families, communities and policing too.

Julia Manning, CEO of 2020health said: “The UK has become the sick-man of Europe when it comes to alcohol consumption and related disease. Urgent action is required to raise awareness of the harms of excessive drinking, not just alcoholism and binge drinking. We support minimum pricing and a ban on alcohol advertising. As a rugby fan too, I think we should follow France’s example of banning alcohol sponsorship of sport”.

Gail Beer, author of 2020health’s 2011 report on ‘risky drinking’ said: “We are really  alcthumbplease to see our suggestion of large, cigarette-packet style warnings taken up as one of the top recommendations. Research shows that people constantly under-estimate how much they are drinking, the strength of the alcohol and the damage it causes. Your risks of cancer, stroke, high blood pressure all rise the more you drink.”

In our report, From one to Many (October 2011) we emphasised that:

  • 8 million adults are regularly drinking above recommended guidelines[1]
  • People don’t realise how much they are drinking
  • We don’t understand what a unit is or how many units there are in a bottle of wine / beer
  • There is a need for more education – especially as guidelines are too generalised
  • 80% GPs believe pxs should be asked about drinking – only 20% do – 65% GPs always ask about smoking
  • Alcohol screening been shown to work – sustained average reduction of 5 units per week
  • We have the most lax advertising guidelines in Europe

The statistics on Alcohol demonstrate the crisis:

  • Alcohol is now 44% more affordable in the UK than it was in 1980
  • Drinking adversely affects up to 1.3 million children in the UK
  • Police forces estimate that 40% of all child abuse cases and 62% of incidences of domestic violence are directly related to alcohol
  • 4% of 12 and 13-year-olds had drunk 28 or more units of alcohol in the week prior to being surveyed – the equivalent of 19 glasses of wine[2]
  • Drinking to excess – beyond recommended limits equates to Alcohol misuse = between £20 and £55Bn cost to the economy = health, crime, family breakdown, violence, lost working days
  • 2 large glasses of wine a day can = 6 units – increase risk of liver disease x7, mouth cancer 5x, stroke 3x and breast cancer 2x
  • 0.5% Blood alcohol content is fatal; Amy Winehouse had 0.4% BAC; 0.08% is the drink driving limit
  • 7% of all hospital admissions and 35% of A&E attendances are due to alcohol

[1] more than 14 units of alcohol per week for women and 21 units of alcohol per week for men – 26% of males and 18% of females (8million in UK)

About Julia Manning

Julia is a social pioneer, writer and campaigner. She studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991, later specialising in visual impairment and diabetes. During her career in optometry, she lectured at City University, was a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital and worked with Primary Care Trusts. She ran a domiciliary practice across south London and was a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. Julia formed 20/20Health in 2006. Becoming an expert in digital health solutions, she led on the NHS–USA Veterans’ Health Digital Health Exchange Programme and was co-founder of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Her research interests are now in harnessing digital to improve personal health, and she is a PhD candidate in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) at UCL. She is also dedicated to creating a sustainable Whole School Wellbeing Community model for schools that builds relationships, discovers assets and develops life skills. She is a member of the Royal Society of Medicine’s Digital Health Council. Julia has shared 2020health's research widely in the media (BBC News, ITV, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions & Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Radio 4 Today, PM and Woman's Hour, LBC) and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week.
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