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alcohol health alliance uk

Balance comments on Panorama 'dying for a drink'

Posted 02/08/11

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, said: “Last night’s Panorama really brought home the devastating impact of drinking too much, too young on the lives of individuals and families.

“The powerful image of a young woman struck down by alcohol-induced liver failure – her mother by her side. No parent wants to witness their child’s life ruined by alcohol, particularly when we have the opportunity to prevent it.

“Studies indicate that starting to drink at an early age can increase your risk of alcohol misuse four-fold. According to official figures alcoholic liver disease in the under 30s has risen by half in the last 10 years, so sadly this appears to be the case and is unfortunately becoming a trend.

“Here in the North East we already have the highest rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions in England and with almost half of men and a third of women in the North East drinking above the Government’s recommended limits, worryingly the scenes could have been from any hospital in the North East.

“We are in this situation because young people today are growing up in a society where alcohol is heavily promoted and is widely available for as little as 12p per unit. It is available in every supermarket and on almost every street corner around the clock. And despite recent studies showing a decrease in the number of young people drinking, there are still a lot who are – and many are regularly consuming dangerous amounts.

“Government clearly needs to act to increase price, reduce availability and restrict promotion. As part of last night’s show, David Cameron was filmed vowing to address issues such as cheap cider in the run up to the election. Despite VAT and price and the Responsibility Deal, a two litre bottle of cider is still available for less than £2 in the North East. Not enough has been done and Government needs to act now.”