Swanswell reacts to Lancet article over alcohol-related deaths

22 February 2011

Swanswell’s reacting to news that up to 250,000 lives could be lost to alcohol-related causes over the next 20 years.

In an article in the Lancet medical journal, three leading liver specialists say that the government lacks ‘clear aspiration to reduce the impact of cheap, readily available, and heavily marketed alcohol on individuals and society.’

Debbie Bannigan, Chief Executive of Swanswell – a national charity which helps people overcome drug, alcohol and other problem behaviour - said: ‘We agree that the government should be looking at more than just pricing when it comes to reducing alcohol-related harm.

While minimum unit pricing may help in the short term, it’s important to have a more joined up approach by considering tighter regulation of other factors such as where alcohol is placed, the types of products available and how these products are promoted.

Research Swanswell accessed on this, set out in our evidence to the recent House of Lords Behaviour Change enquiry, found that £800 million a year was spent on alcohol promotion in 2004 – considerably more than can be invested in advice to help people drink at sensible levels.

Although the cost of this has most probably reduced because of new, cheaper mediums, more people can be reached due to the popularity of advertising on the internet for example.

However, tougher regulation alone won’t solve the problem in the longer term. We need to find better ways of helping people make healthy choices about the amount they drink.

‘Meanwhile, we have to provide people who are struggling with their alcohol use to access  the right services to help them tackle their problems.

That’s where organisations such as Swanswell, working closely with commissioners, play an important role in helping people change and be happy.’

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