1 September 2016: Responding to the report issued today by the Commons Health Select Committee entitled Public Health Post-2013 – Structures, Organisation, Funding and Delivery Inquiry, Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said:
We welcome this report and its call for a ‘whole life course’ approach to health, encompassing prevention and early intervention to improve public health and reduce health inequalities.
In the face of worrying public health budget cuts, there is now more than ever a need for meaningful prevention around alcohol. Theresa May, in her first speech as Prime Minister, spoke of the ‘burning injustice’ that if you are poor you will die nine years earlier than if you are rich, and bold action to prevent alcohol harm would go a long way to tackling this injustice.
All the evidence suggests that tackling cheap, high strength alcohol will improve the health of the poorest communities the most, helping to reduce inequalities. The Government should fix anomalies in the tax structures which allow alcohol to be sold at bargain basement prices in our supermarkets and revisit plans to introduce minimum unit pricing.
In addition, health should be enshrined as a material consideration in planning and licensing law, allowing local authorities to better tackle alcohol harm and address inequalities in their communities.
Reducing harm from alcohol should be a key focus in the government’s forthcoming Life Chances Strategy. The damage alcohol can do to children, families and vulnerable groups mean it should be an integral part of any strategy to ensure more equal opportunity for all.