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Report shows UK has an ‘unhealthy’ relationship with alcohol

Colin Shevills of Balance.
Colin Shevills of Balance.

Eight in ten people in the North East think the UK’s relationship with alcohol is ‘unhealthy’, a new report has revealed.

The How We Drink, What We Think survey by Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, saw more than 2,000 people in the region asked about their views on alcohol.

And 54 per cent of respondents backed the introduction of a minimum unit price, while 71 per cent felt that the Government should be responsible for communicating the health risks associated with alcohol.

The first report into the ‘state of the region’ on alcohol also found that 75 per cent would strongly welcome reductions in the drink drive limit, and 67 per cent agreed that children should be protected from alcohol advertising and marketing.

The report found that people in the North East are more likely to say that the country has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol than people elsewhere in the country.

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “This new report clearly shows that we have a problem with alcohol here in the North East and that the majority believe that not enough is being done to tackle the harm that alcohol causes.

“It also shows that in the region we are better informed of the harms of alcohol than the country as a whole.

“Yet, worryingly, many of us underestimate the risks we take by drinking above the recommended weekly drinking guidelines.”

Both men and women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week in order to keep health risks from drinking to a low level, according to the new Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines.

The report highlights that 36 per cent of men in the region are drinking above the guidelines, while the figure for women is 16 per cent.

Mr Shevills added: “The results also show people don’t have the information they need to make an informed decision about alcohol as adults, and also for their children.

“Adults surveyed were much more familiar with the kind of myths associated with children and alcohol than the Chief Medical Officer’s advice that children shouldn’t drink alcohol at all before the age of 15.

“Encouragingly, there is strong support in the region to want the Government to do more to tackle alcohol harm and North Easterners would support a range of measures – from health warning labels on bottles to the introduction of a minimum unit price – to tackle the issue.

“It is high time the Government stepped up and introduced a comprehensive, evidence-based strategy, with the intention of making alcohol less affordable, less available and less desirable.

“Alcohol is 60 per cent more affordable now than it was in 1980 and is available almost everywhere.

“At the very least, the Government must promote the Chief Medical Officer’s drinking guidelines for adults and children as a matter of urgency.”