More than 70 health organisations have called on the government to “curb the nation’s drink problem” by prioritising minimum alcohol price proposals.
A report released by the Alcohol Health Alliance and the University of Stirling recommends that a minimum price of 50p per unit be introduced in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The group, including the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the British Medical Association (BMA) has urged the government to introduce minimum pricing so that they will not be “left behind” other countries.
“The UK is seeing a year on year increase in alcohol related deaths especially liver disease and what makes this worse is that average age of people dying from liver disease is decreasing,” said Andrew Langford, British Liver Trust chief executive.
Langford said the “avoidable epidemic” must be tackled now.
He said: “We must all do something now to start to tackle this avoidable ‘epidemic’ and reverse a trend that sees well over ten thousand people a year dying prematurely because of alcohol-related harm.”
Suggestions from the report include tougher restrictions on alcohol marketing and calls for empowerment of licensing authorities to tackle alcohol availability in their area.
‘Appetite for change’
Leader of the development strategy, University of Stirling’s Professor Linda Bauld said there is clearly an “appetite for change”.
“There is strong support for this strategy not just from the numerous organisations who have endorsed it, but also from the public.”
Dr Peter Carter, Royal College of Nursing (RCN) chief executive said: “This strategy is based on a growing body of evidence which suggests that a 50p minimum unit price would prevent thousands of deaths every year as well as reducing crime.
“Frontline nursing staff see the devastating consequences of alcohol abuse every single day and this runs from the short-term pressure it places on A&E departments to long-term chronic health problems such as liver and heart disease.”