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Alcohol-related deaths on the increase

Alcohol-related deaths on the increase

Publication date: Wednesday, 23 March 2016
Contributor(s): Jeremy Bray

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that alcohol-related deaths have increased for the second year running, including a 6% jump for women.

The figures for 2014 show that there were 8697 alcohol-related deaths registered in the UK with the majority (65%) being among males. This represents an almost doubling of the death rate since 1994. There was also a worrying trend in younger people dying from alcohol consumption. In the past 10 years the age group with the highest rate of alcohol-related deaths has fallen from 65-69 in both men and women, to 60-64 in men and 55-59 in women.

The Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, Professor Sir Ian Gilmoure, gave a strong response to the new figures, “Deaths from alcohol are increasing and the age at which people are killed by alcohol is falling. The UK Government says this is a public health priority, so why is the situation getting worse? It is because Government continues to duck the evidence, instead of bringing in effective policies to regulate the 24 hour availability of cheap, heavily marketed drink, particularly in our supermarkets and off-licences.

We also know that the ONS figures underestimate the true scale of the problem, and that alcohol has a role in many more deaths each year than the ONS figures suggest – the true figures are likely to be three times that reported by the ONS.The government and the ONS need to address this.”

The Department of Health figures for 2014 suggest a much higher impact of alcohol with alcohol-related deaths exceeding 22,000. The ONS data only refer to those deaths directly due to alcohol consumption and do not include other deaths where alcohol has a strong causal relationship. These include cancers of the mouth, oesophagus and liver, and cases involving drink-driving, violence and suicides.

  • In January 2016, the government published new guidelines for alcohol consumption (Department of Health, 2016), recommending that men and women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week and that these units should be spread across several days.
  • The Home Office’s Alcohol Strategy (2012) introduced a minimum unit price for alcohol and initiated a consultation on banning multi-buy alcohol discounting in order to reduce the number of people drinking to harmful levels.

The ONS report is available at http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/subnational-health4/alcohol-related-deaths-in-the-united-kingdom/2014/stb.html

Topics covered:
Category: Have You Heard
Edition: Volume 1, Number 3, BJPCN Online 2016
Contributor(s): Jeremy Bray

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