UK-wide alcohol strategy calls welcomed by Swanswell

01 March 2013

Swanswell’s welcoming calls for a UK-wide strategy to combat alcohol misuse including a 50p minimum unit price for alcohol.

The national charity, which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, is responding to a report by a coalition of 70 health groups and campaigners, who said it was time for a ‘no-nonsense’ and consistent approach to tackling the problem (reports BBC News).

Health first: an evidence-based alcohol strategy for the UK’, produced by Stirling University, suggests a number of wide-ranging proposals to tackle alcohol misuse.  

It includes a 50p minimum unit price for alcohol across the UK, rather than a fragmented approach of the proposed 45p in England, 50p in Scotland and possible changes in Northern Ireland, who are yet to put forward specific details.

Research suggests a 50p minimum price would reduce consumption by 6.7%, leading to 3,000 fewer alcohol-related deaths and 100,000 fewer alcohol-related hospital admissions after 10 years.

The coalition of experts also suggest alcohol-related advertising and sponsorship should end, health warnings should take up a third of label space, restrictions should be in place on where and when alcohol is sold and the drink-drive limit should be lowered.

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘We welcome the findings of today’s report as a wide-ranging attempt to tackle alcohol misuse across the UK in a consistent way.

It’s pleasing to see that a number of factors have been considered alongside minimum pricing – including where alcohol is sold and how it is promoted – something which we’ve also been calling for.

Other measures suggested - such as a lowering of the drink-drive limit and more prominent health warnings - are also welcome because, together, these proposals could all make a real difference to someone’s alcohol use.

We hope the government takes note of this research but in addition, we’d like to see more emphasis on alcohol education, particularly in schools, and clearer alcohol information, so that people can make informed decisions about their drinking.

Alcohol misuse can affect anyone and the reasons behind it are often very complex, so we all need to play a part in tackling the issues – it’s not something any single government, organisation or individual can do on their own.’

The report also suggests that all health and social care professionals should be trained to provide early identification and brief alcohol advice to their clients routinely; something Swanswell’s identified and has developed a range of training for.

Debbie added: ‘Swanswell’s designed a number of training courses for professionals around brief interventions and alcohol awareness, which aim to provide a better understanding of the harms alcohol can cause and how to approach issues appropriately.

‘Understanding substance misuse, solution focused therapy and working effectively with service users are just some of the topics covered. Other training is available and can be tailored to meet any organisation’s needs. 

‘Ultimately, it’s a cost-effective way of helping even more people, who may not otherwise have accessed support, get the help they need.’

If you're worried about your alcohol use, take a look at our alcohol information pages. If you're interested in a training opportunity, see our training portal.

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