23 July 2019: Responding to the publication of the Government’s Prevention Green Paper, Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said:
“It’s strange that the Prevention Green Paper is so inconsistent: the Government wants the UK to lead the world in tobacco control but won’t apply pressures to alcohol harms. Like tobacco, alcohol causes cancer; like tobacco, alcohol can have serious effects on the health and wellbeing of children; like tobacco, alcohol leads to early avoidable deaths. Liver disease is rising while the cost of alcohol is falling.
“The Green Paper even states that ‘the harm caused by problem drinking is rising’. So it’s shocking that the only proposal in the paper is to relax the rules on what constitutes an alcohol-free drink. Once again, the Government puts the alcohol industry first and consumers last.
“The Government has missed a huge opportunity to fully support the estimated 750,000 people in England alone who have alcohol dependence and the children who live with them. It has lost the chance to tackle overloading in our hospitals, where one in five inpatients drinks alcohol in a harmful way. It has failed to take action that could have led to lower crime, given the links between alcohol consumption and violence. It won’t even give alcohol consumers the same rights to know what is in their drink as they would have if they were to buy a salad. No wonder consumers are confused about what constitutes risky drinking.
“We are calling for the Government to think again: to review the evidence emerging from Scotland on minimum unit pricing, to review duty rates across the board so that drinks of high alcohol volume always cost more, to ensure that consumers have accurate on-product information as well as the Chief Medical Officers’ consumption guidelines, to adequately fund treatment for people with addiction – saving taxpayers’ money in the long run – and to curb marketing practices that make cheap alcohol ubiquitous.
“It’s time that the Government stood up for children, families and communities. It’s a shame it missed the chance to do that in its Prevention Green Paper today. We will be calling for the new ministerial team to take the opportunity to start afresh and to give the issue the seriousness it deserves.”
The Prevention Green Paper – Advancing our health: Prevention in the 2020s – can be found here.