Public Health England partner Drinkaware for ‘Drink Free Days’ campaign

Posted on: 12th September 2018

Public Health England have launched a ‘Drink Free Days’ campaign with Drinkaware, which will be encouraging middle-aged drinkers to take more days off from drinking as a way of reducing their health risks from alcohol.

The campaign echoes one of the key messages from our own Love Your Liver campaign – always make sure that you have two to three consecutive days off alcohol each week. The British Liver Trust has always promoted this message because it is simple and easy to understand, reduces the overall number of units that you drink each week, helps prevent alcohol dependency and importantly for liver health gives your liver a rest and a chance to rejuvenate.

Vanessa Hebditch, Director of Communications and Policy at the Trust said,

“Although many people who are diagnosed with liver disease and liver cancer do not drink alcohol and have never done so, drinking alcohol to excess is still the leading cause of liver disease and liver cancer in the UK. You do not need to be an ‘alcoholic’ to do your liver harm and one in five adults in the UK currently drink alcohol in a way that could harm their liver. Having two – three days off alcohol is an easy way for all of us to address our drinking – but of course it’s important that we don’t ‘binge’ on the other days and try and keep to the safer limit of 14 units per week – that’s equivalent to around 7 glasses of wine or 6 pints of beer.”

Liver disease usually has no symptoms in the early stages so it’s important that people understand the risk factors. The more alcohol people drink, the greater their risk of developing a number of serious potentially life limiting health conditions, including liver disease, heart disease and seven types of cancer. Regular drinking also increases the amount of calories consumed and can contribute to weight gain and obesity.

The Public Health campaign is particularly targeting middle-aged drinkers as  research shows that those aged between 45 and 65 are more likely to go over the recommended 14 units of alcohol per week.

However, the Public Health campaign has caused controversy because they have partnered with Drinkaware who are funded by the alcohol industry.

Professor Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health  Alliance said,

“While people have a right to know about the harms caused by alcohol, we have serious concerns about this campaign itself and the fact that it represents the beginning of a relationship between the alcohol industry and Public Health England. We strongly believe that the alcohol industry should not have a role in providing health information to the general public. The evidence tells us their campaigns are more likely to improve the reputation of global alcohol corporations than improve the health of the nation.” You can read their full statement here

In a Public Health England blog, Duncan Selbie defended the partnership with Drinkaware saying

“Some people will disagree with PHE working with Drinkaware as they are funded by the alcohol industry but factually they are governed independently and we will be fiercely vigilant on this.”

What do you think? Should Public Health work so closely with Drinkaware?  Please let us know by emailing