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Thousands are 'at risk of alcohol death' say doctors

  1. Finn Mac Cool
    Poor alcohol regulation could cost up to 250,000 lives in England and Wales over the next 20 years, doctors warn.

    Writing in The Lancet, leading liver disease specialists say measures including a minimum price of 50p per unit are urgently needed.
    They also said the coalition government was "too close" to the drinks industry.
    But the Department of Health said it was taking "tough action", while the drinks industry said it was "playing its part in tackling alcohol misuse".

    The scientists predicted UK deaths from liver disease in four different scenarios.
    The best case was based on the UK following the example of France, which had a deep-seated problem in the 1960s, with high liver disease deaths linked to the consumption of cheap alcohol.

    Drinking levels there were reduced by imposing strict marketing restrictions.
    Following that example, the doctors predict the UK could reduce the current level of deaths from liver disease of 11 per 100,000 by a third.
    But they warn if nothing is done, deaths from all alcohol-related causes - including cancers and road accidents - could claim the lives of 250,000 people in England and Wales over the coming two decades.

    'Serious situation'

    The medics, led by Professor Ian Gilmore who has long campaigned for action on alcohol misuse, welcomed the coalition government's plans to keep duty rises on alcohol at 2% above inflation.
    But they say plans to ban the sale of alcohol at below cost price, and to increase duty on beer stronger than 7.5% proof, are "inconsequential" because only a tiny percentage of sales fall into that category.

    They add: "These policies suggest that the government remains too close to industry and lacks clear aspiration to reduce the impact of cheap, readily available and heavily marketed alcohol on individuals and society."

    The doctors also criticise government moves to include representatives from the drinks trade - but not alcohol health experts - on its "responsibility deal" board, which will help steer public health policy on drinking.

    Professor Gilmore said recent figures had shown a slight decline in the level of alcohol consumption.
    But he warned: "Fewer people are drinking more".
    Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: "How many more people have to die from alcohol-related conditions, and how many more families devastated by the consequences before the government takes the situation as seriously as it took the dangers of tobacco?"

    Don Shenker of Alcohol Concern added: "Government need to decide whose side it is on, that of the general public or drinks industry shareholders?
    "We have to accept that in order to save both lives and our quality of life, certain measures which the industry won't like must be introduced to protect the public's health."

    But a spokesman for the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said: "The authors ignore the fact that alcohol taxes and prices are among the highest in Europe, in contrast to France, a country with low prices yet cited as a nation having achieved a reduction in liver-related deaths."

    He added that the drinks industry was "committed to playing (its) part in addressing the issues associated with alcohol misuse".
    David Poley, chief executive of the Portman Group, which also represents UK drinks producers, said: "Latest government statistics show alcohol related deaths actually fell in the UK last year and we want to see that continue.
    "That's why the industry puts its energies into funding health education campaigns and working with people who are serious about reducing alcohol misuse in the UK.

    "Creating doomsday scenarios is not in anyone's best interests, least of all the responsible majority of people who enjoy alcohol in moderation as part of a healthy lifestyle."
    A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "The government has wasted no time in taking tough action to tackle problem drinking, including plans to stop supermarkets selling below-cost alcohol and working to introduce a tougher licensing regime."
    She claimed the government was "taking a bold new approach" to public health.

    21 February 2011



  1. mickey_bee
    If only they had the balls to introduce taxes on drugs like cannabis, mephedrone, ecstasy - recreational drugs, not drugs of abuse - they'd still easily be able to eliminate the illicit gang market in those drugs, improve users health, and the violence and associated crime that goes with the trade, - aswell as perhaps most importantly, the allure - it's not particularly cool buying taxed drugs from a registered pharmacist is it?
    Whilst at the same time the Government would be earning HUGE tax revenues, at a time when all the government talks about is cuts - normally to frontline services that we simply NEED, like the NHS, Police, Firefighters, Paramedics etc.

    Drugs of addiction, in the UK namely heroin and crack-cocaine, would be turned into medical problems - the problems of addiction, (like they used to be pre mid-1960s).

    Numerous studies have shown, the majority of addicts, if they stay alive long enough, (which is hard when you're buying street drugs and engaged in that lifestyle), become clean of their own accord - when they themselves are ready - normally between 8 and 15 years. Of course, some remain addicts for life, but everyone, even every addict, is an individual, with their own medical history, and their own story.
    Prescribe certified addicts realistic doses of their drug of addiction, remove them from the world of crime - be that committing crime to get money for drugs, or engaging with gangs to buy their drugs off - gangs which kill indiscrimnately.... Almost overnight these gangs would have no source of income, as all their customers are provided a pure, safe product by the state, at a considerably lower price - yet one that, in terms of petty crime, gang crime, violent crime, and the subsequent police, NHS, Court costs and so on, would save the taxpayer millions, perhaps even billions per annum, not to mention making the streets colossally safer, (and saving hundreds of potential overdose victims annually) aswell, - in my mind the most important thing,........ but I'm wise enough to know that it's money that talks.

    This would rapidly, dramatically, reduce the budget deficit........why isn't it being implemented? Because the government are afraid of the largely uneducated -(on the subject)- public backlash, and their subsequent drop in the political 'X-Factor' poll....

    In a time when jobs are extremely hard to come by, especially graduate jobs - ''here's your degree, you now owe us £15,000'' - A system of taxation would create tens of thousands of jobs, from basic to pHD level. And it would control who get's what far more than the current black market system of, 'if you've got the money you can get it', regardless of age, health conditions and so on.

    But that's the problem, there are solutions, or rather, dramatic improvements to the problems we as a society face regarding drugs, both recreational and addictive, but the politicians don't have the guts to go through with them, or at least make an attempt to sway public opinion by providing the real evidence for each option. Instead they all act like Stretch Armstrong; bending and twisting into whatever shape makes them most popular at that specific point in time with the majority of the electorate.

    Politics in this country has turned into a charade, more closely resembling the 'X-Factor' popularity contest than any sort of 'politics'. And the country's already suffering because of this, but will only continue to suffer more, as the 'popularity-politics' intensifies, and it inevitably will, much to the loss of British political integrity.

    Just wish I didn't care enough to be able to sit back with a bag of popcorn and laugh at the ugly ones...............
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