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alcohol health alliance uk

Supermarkets set to score as region suffers at hands of alcohol

Posted 07/06/12

As Euro 2012 gets underway, alcohol is being advertised as the 12th man by supermarkets – while emergency services prepare for the worst.

The North East Ambulance Service and the police are preparing for a busy June and July during the football tournament as shoppers take advantage of cut-price alcohol deals.

Online promotions and in-store marketing are also at fever pitch in a bid to influence the way we shop ahead of and during the tournament - triggering impulse purchases which increase consumption and related problems such as violence, crime and disorder.

Paul Liversidge, Chief Operating Officer at North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said: “Events such as Euro 2012 are great but it can have a huge impact on the ambulance service with increased alcohol-related incidents and call outs. People do get carried away and cheap alcohol is a major factor. This puts an enormous strain on the job we do. We would urge people to drink sensibly and consider the health implications and consequences, both in the short and long term.”

Ahead of the tournament Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, has carried out some snapshot surveys at some of the region’s leading supermarkets to reveal that discounted alcohol is currently the subject of football themed promotions such as ‘Great Match Bargains’, ‘Football Party’ and ‘Enjoy the Euros’. The promotions were heavily visible online, with alcohol sold within a package of essentials which also included BBQ food and snacks.

The survey found that popular brands of alcohol are being sold in the ‘big four’ supermarkets for as little as:

These prices are well below the minimum price per unit on alcohol proposed by the Scottish Government. Scotland recently set its minimum price at 50p per unit - evidence suggests it will cut would cut consumption and consequentially deaths, crimes and hospital admissions and reduce the economic burden. England and Wales will be consulting on the level of a minimum unit price later this year.

The survey also found:

Jon Stoddart, Chief Constable at Durham Constabulary, said: “We know that alcohol can be purchased too cheaply and it can turn ordinary citizens into a burden on our police forces and our communities. Alcohol is a persistent problem that impacts on all disciplines throughout forces and unfortunately we do experience more problems when events like Euro 2012 are taking place. I hope football fans enjoy the event but also ensure that they stay in control and don’t exceed their limits.”

Colin Shevills, Director at Balance, said: “We certainly aren’t against drinking alcohol during Euro 2012. The key is to have fun without drinking too much and not relying on alcohol to have a good time. Many of us enjoy a drink, especially during events like this, but it’s easy to get carried away, especially when supermarkets are making such a big noise that alcohol is hugely affordable.

“Here in the North East we continue to suffer at the hands of alcohol misuse with the highest rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions and high rates of young people drinking. And while we have relatively low crime rates related to alcohol, it is still linked to half of violent crime and domestic abuse.

“It is frustrating and frankly irresponsible that alcohol continues to be sold at such low prices – prices reduced even further during Euro 2012 with popular brands selling for little more than supermarket’s own brands. Supermarkets are using Euro 2012 as an opportunity to sell more alcohol and increase profits, regardless of our health and welfare.

“Introducing a minimum price will prevent them from doing so. With the support of a majority of people in the North East and the support of councils across the North East, we look to the Government’s consultation to improve this situation and start tackling cheap alcohol and it’s devastating impact on the region.”