About the Alcohol Health Alliance

The Alcohol Health Alliance UK (AHA) is an alliance of more than 40 non-governmental organisations which work together to promote evidence-based policies to reduce the damage caused by alcohol misuse. Members of the AHA include medical royal colleges, charities, patient representatives and alcohol health campaigners.

The AHA was launched in 2007 and is chaired by Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, a leading professor of hepatology and special advisor on alcohol to the Royal College of Physicians.

The AHA works to:

  • highlight the rising levels of alcohol-related harm
  • propose evidence-based solutions to reduce this harm
  • influence decision-makers to take positive action to address the damage caused by alcohol misuse

The AHA campaigns for evidence-based policies


The AHA does not have a view on drinking. The AHA campaigns for evidence-based policies to tackle the harms caused by excessive alcohol consumption, not for prohibition.

The AHA is independent of the alcohol industry


The AHA does not work directly with the alcohol industry. Evidence shows that the global alcohol industry is working to influence policy at an international, national and local level in order to favour their business interests. Interventions proposed by the alcohol industry are generally weak, rarely evidence-based and unlikely to reduce the impact of alcohol-related harm.

The alcohol industry advocates working in partnership, however often these partnerships are used to gain political influence and public support for ineffective policy measures while misrepresenting effective evidence-based policies.

The AHA considers alcohol misuse to be a population-wide issue and advocates that any policies to tackle the problem should be developed independently of groups with a vested interested, such as the alcohol industry, in maximising profits for shareholders.



The problems associated with alcohol


Alcohol plays an important role in the social, economic and cultural life of our country. Many people drink sensibly, although in recent decades overall alcohol consumption has increased dramatically. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), harmful consumption of alcohol results in 2.5 million deaths around the world annually. Alcohol misuse is now the third biggest risk factor to health behind tobacco and high blood pressure, it has been linked directly to seven forms of cancer and there are also the acute harms caused by binge drinking.

Alcohol misuse places a huge burden on the NHS, police, criminal justice systems as well as the wider community. Every year, 1 million hospital admissions are related to alcohol, and alcohol is 10% of the UK burden of disease and death, making it one of the three biggest lifestyle risk factors for disease and death in the UK. This is entirely preventable.


The government estimates that alcohol-related harm currently costs the NHS £3.7 billion every year (equal to £120 for every tax payer) and the wider UK economy more than £21billion – more than double the £10 bn revenue generated from alcohol taxes.



Minimum unit pricing


The AHA is committed to the policy of minimum unit pricing (MUP) because it is an evidence-based intervention which has been shown to be effective in tackling health inequalities and reducing consumption. Alcohol today is now 54% more affordable than it was in 1980 and the majority of alcohol is now sold in supermarkets and off-licences where is it offered at very low prices. Of all alcohol sold, it is the very cheap products such as large bottles of strong cider, that play the biggest part in alcohol-related harm.

Minimum unit pricing


The AHA is committed to the policy of minimum unit pricing (MUP) because it is an evidence-based intervention which has been shown to be effective in tackling health inequalities and reducing consumption. Alcohol today is now 54% more affordable than it was in 1980 and the majority of alcohol is now sold in supermarkets and off-licences where is it offered at very low prices. Of all alcohol sold, it is the very cheap products such as large bottles of strong cider, that play the biggest part in alcohol-related harm.


Minimum unit pricing will not adversely affect the poor. Evidence shows that people living in the most deprived areas of the country are disproportionately more likely to:

  • experience the impacts of alcohol-related crime
  • suffer the impacts of alcohol-related health conditions
  • die from a health condition caused by alcohol.

MUP allows products to be priced according to their strength, stronger drinks such as high-strength white cider and spirits would have a higher price than lower strength alternatives. MUP therefore only targets products that are consumed by people drinking harmful quantities of strong alcohol, often young people, without penalising moderate drinkers, including those on lower incomes.


The AHA calls for restrictions on alcohol advertising


Evidence shows that exposure to alcohol marketing encourages children to drink at an earlier age and in greater quantities than they otherwise would. Controls are already in place that should limit the exposure of children to alcohol advertising, however clear failures with the controls can be identified. The current controls are also struggling to deal with the growth of marketing through digital, online and social media. The AHA views alcohol as no ordinary commodity and should not be promoted as such.

The AHA is willing to share information and can clarify facts as appropriate…

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The AHA is supported by: