Swanswell welcomes new MP report into alcohol strategy

19 July 2012

Swanswell’s welcoming a new report from a cross-party group of MPs calling for tougher alcohol advertising rules and more focus on the longer term effects of drinking too much.

Swanswell, a national charity which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, is responding to today’s report from the House of Commons Health Select Committee which reviewed the government’s alcohol strategy for England.

Although the committee welcomed the strategy, it said the drinks industry was still not doing enough to tackle problem alcohol use and that there was too much focus on binge drinking, rather than the longer term effects.

It also highlighted that the strategy needed some clear, quantified alcohol–specific objectives to provide a framework for future policy and for accountability.

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘Today’s report is a clear indication that the new alcohol strategy doesn’t go far enough to tackle what is a growing problem.

We agree that much of the strategy’s focus is on binge drinking and the more obvious problems associated with alcohol misuse such as anti-social behaviour.

But it doesn’t hit the mark when it comes to tackling the problems associated with chronic alcohol misuse and the increased risk of long term health issues such as cancer or pancreatitis.’

The health committee also concluded that the alcohol industry needs to acknowledge that its advertising messages do have an effect on attitudes to alcohol and that the rules on advertising should be re-examined.

Debbie added: ‘We know the alcohol industry spends around £800 million a year on the promotion of alcohol, yet the government spends only around £17 million on alcohol education.

There are so many mixed messages around alcohol misuse – something the report picks up on, so it’s time we think about clear messages and information around alcohol and health.

This would help people make their own better informed choices about their alcohol use and would reduce some of the cost to the NHS - which is currently around £2.7 billion a year or about 3% of the whole NHS budget - of treating alcohol-related health issues.

Ultimately, tackling alcohol misuse is not something any government or organisation can do on its own – we all have a part to play.’

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