Extensive review of evidence on alcohol harm published by Public Health England

Posted on: 2nd December 2016

Public Health England has today (02 December) released a new report on alcohol related harm in England.

The report, The Public Health Burden of Alcohol and the Effectiveness and Cost Effectiveness of Alcohol Control Policies: An evidence review, was commissioned by the Department of Health. It outlines the social, health and economic effects of alcohol consumption and proposes possible policy solutions.

Sales of alcohol in England and Wales have increased by 42% since 1980, and in recent years many indicators of alcohol-related harm have increased.

There are now over 1 million hospital admissions relating to alcohol each year, half of which occur in the lowest three socioeconomic deciles. Alcohol-related mortality has also increased, particularly for liver disease which has seen a 400% increase since 1970.

In England, the average age at death of those dying from an alcohol-specific cause is 54.3 years. The average age of death from all causes is 77.6 years. More working years of life are lost in England as a result of alcohol-related deaths than from cancer of the lung, bronchus, trachea, colon, rectum, brain, pancreas, skin, ovary, kidney, stomach, bladder and prostate combined.

Reflecting three key influencers of alcohol consumption – affordability, availability and the acceptability of social norms around its consumption – the evidence review describes potential new policies aimed at of reducing the public health burden of alcohol.

Andrew Langford, Chief Executive of the British Liver Trust said,

“The Government needs to take action now on this extensive review of the evidence on alcohol harm by Public Health England. We are facing a liver disease epidemic - it is now the third most common cause of premature death. A major reason for this is that as a nation we are drinking too much alcohol.

“This report demonstrates that there is good evidence to put a minimum unit price on all alcohol and to restrict alcohol marketing to young people. Interventions such as this should not be seen as ‘interfering’ or the actions of a ‘nanny state’ but as the basis for good healthcare for all.”