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alcohol health alliance uk

Balance responds to British Beer and Pub Association figures

Posted 03/09/10

Although figures released today (September 3) by the British Beer and Pub Association suggest alcohol consumption is falling, Balance, the North East Alcohol Office says more needs to be done to tackle the problems caused by alcohol misuse.

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “Although we haven’t had the opportunity to review these figures in detail, if consumption is actually falling it’s a step in the right direction. Saying that, educating and informing is part of a wider, targeted package of measures, including legislation, which is needed to successfully tackle alcohol misuse.

“In the North East, one in three men and one in four women continue to drink at or above the recommended daily limits on a daily, or almost daily basis and the average weekly female consumption has increased by 22%. This suggests that consumption hasn’t fallen by nearly enough.”

Figures published earlier this week by the North West Public Health Observatory show that the North is still suffering more at the hands of alcohol related harm than the rest of England.

“It would appear that the recession has reduced the amount of alcohol sold by producers and importers, but the recession is not a targeted solution to the problems we face. The introduction of a minimum price per unit of alcohol would have the greatest impact on changing drinking habits in the long term,” Colin said.

A minimum price would link alcohol strength to its price, having the greatest impact on cheap, strong alcohol such as white ciders, super-strength lager and own-brand spirits and targeting heavy and younger drinkers who consume the most. It would have little or no effect on the price of a pint of beer at the average British pub.

Colin added: “A number of factors have combined to cripple the pubtrade and it is clear the Government needs to intervene and do something about it. By far the greatest threat to the British pub comes from the fact that supermarkets are able to sell alcohol at pocket money prices, a situation against which pubs can’t and won’t compete. The introduction of a minimum price would level the playing field and has recently gained support from the pubtrade in the region through the British Institute of Innkeepers.”

The Government is currently consulting on alcohol price and legislation. To have your say and to support Balance’s current campaign which highlights the impact alcohol misuse is having on our region’s frontline services, visit www.balancenortheast.co.uk before the consultation closes on September 8.