12th May 2015: Responding to the publication of a new OECD report, Tackling Harmful Alcohol Use: Economics and Public Health Policy, which analyses major trends in alcohol consumption and examines the health and economic impact of alcohol policies in the UK and other OECD countries, Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK (AHA) said:
“This report shows that whilst average alcohol consumption may be falling in some countries, those who drink are drinking from a younger age and drinking more. These trends are worrying because heavy drinking at a younger age is associated with an increased risk of both acute and chronic conditions. Alcohol consumption is also largely underreported which means that an accurate picture of the scale of the problem remains to be seen.
“For too long drinking has been seen as a personal choice rather than a population-wide public health issue. When individual choices cause harm to others and generate societal costs, as alcohol does, it’s time for governments to take steps to mitigate the damage caused.
“This report demonstrates that there is no silver bullet and that success only comes when a range of policies on pricing, marketing and availability are implemented. More effective regulation of alcohol marketing is needed, particularly with the development of the internet and social media. This report confirms that concerns that minimum unit pricing will unfairly penalise people on low incomes are unfounded.
“We now have more evidence of the harms caused by alcohol than ever before and we also have strong evidence on what works to reduce the damage caused. I hope the new government will pay attention to the findings of this report and take action so that we do not continue to store up problems for the future”.