Better alcohol education needed to tackle Britain’s binge drinking culture, says Swanswell

13 May 2014

Swanswell’s renewing calls for better alcohol education and the introduction of measures including minimum pricing, as a new report finds Britain’s binge drinking levels are some of the worst in the world.

The national recovery charity which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use is responding to research released by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which ranks the UK 13 highest for heavy drinking (out of 196 countries).

According to WHO, around one in four Britons (28%) had an episode of heavy drinking (or ‘binge drinking’) in the previous month, compared to a global average of 16% (reports the Telegraph). The research also ranked Britain 25 highest for overall alcohol consumption.

The report reveals that 3.3 million people worldwide lost their lives because of alcohol in 2012, with 7.6% of deaths among men and 4% of deaths among women caused by alcohol-related conditions.

According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 8,367 alcohol-related deaths in the UK during the same period.

Swanswell believes better education and clearer information around the harms of problem alcohol use will help future generations make informed decisions about their relationship with alcohol, and avoid drinking behaviour that could damage their health.

Introducing minimum unit pricing alongside other measures linked to alcohol promotion, placement and the product itself would also be a vital step in reducing the harms associated with problem drinking. 

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘While these are very worrying statistics, they’re not surprising – however, they should act as a wake-up call to everyone about the scale of problem alcohol use in the UK, and across the world.

Millions of people needlessly lose their lives globally because of their relationship with alcohol – many because they’re unaware of the risks or don’t realise they have a problem.

It’s vital that people have access to better education and clearer information – and that governments take appropriate action to remove mixed messaging around alcohol – so that they can make informed decisions to help them be safe.

Ultimately, tackling problem alcohol use is not something any single government, organisation or individual can do on their own – we all have a part to play.’

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