by Dayo Laniyan
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Misuse has said that health warning labels should be compulsory on bottle of wine, beer and spirits, as part of a series put forward by the group to tackle what it calls an epidemic of alcohol abuse in Britain.
The chair of the group, Conservative MP Tracey Crouch talked about people needing to be just as aware of the dangers of excessive drinking as they are of smoking. “The facts and figures of the scale of alcohol misuse in the UK speak for themselves: 1.2 million people a year are admitted to hospital due to alcohol; liver disease in those under 30 has more than doubled over the past 10 years; and the cost of alcohol to the economy totals £21 billion. Getting political parties to seriously commit to these 10 measures will be a massive step in tackling the huge public health issue that alcohol is.”
Along with health warning labels, the report by the group also proposes for a minimum unit price on alcohol, stronger regulation of alcohol marketing, reduction of the drink-drive limit and the appointment of a single minister responsible for reducing “alcohol harms”.
Labour peer Clive Brooke, the vice-chairman of the group claimed that after smoking “alcohol is the second biggest preventable killer” in Britain.
“Not only does this cost lives but it burdens the NHS and the criminal and justice systems and others with ever increasing costs. All the political parties know that but they run for cover when they are confronted by the drinks industry and its immensely powerful lobby. These proposals give them another chance to consider whether they really have the guts to take a different line for the country’s wellbeing in the future.”
The proposals have attracted considerable support, particularly from Alcohol Concern. Its chief executive, Jackie Ballard said “We need to tackle this and the significant harmful effects alcohol misuse causes to individuals. I hope all parties will read the manifesto and show a commitment to the vital measures which it highlights.”
A government spokeswoman said “We are taking action to reduce excessive alcohol consumption and to give people better information about the impact drinking can have on your health. Through our Responsibility Deal, the drinks industry has committed to putting unit and health messages on 80% of all bottles and cans. And we have banned alcohol sales below the level of duty plus VAT to tackle the worst cases of very cheap and harmful alcohol.”