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Tuesday, 7 April 2009

How big an issue does binge drinking in Wales need to be before serious action is taken?

If ever we needed proof of how big a problem alcohol misuse is becoming in Wales, then this report from the National Public Health Service for Wales surely gives us just that.

Just to give you a taster of what’s in the report;

1,000 people die from causes related to alcohol in Wales each year

Wales has the highest number of 13-year-olds who say they have been drunk at least twice

Those living in deprived areas are three times more likely to die of a cause linked to alcohol than those living in more affluent areas

So proof then that tackling dangerous levels of alcohol consumption is our next big public heath issue.

It’s for this very reason that we want the WAG, either alongside the UK Government, or on its own through devolved powers to bring in tighter regulations around alcohol and the drinks industry.

Some of this centres on the price or “cheapness” of alcohol, making it extremely accessible to those in deprived areas and to youngsters. So we want to see an increase in taxation on alcoholic drinks, with the tax being proportionate to the amount of alcohol in the product. We’ve also been calling for a Licensing Measure to put a stop to the deep discounting of alcohol for sale in places like off licenses and supermarkets.

We’d also like to see research carried out into the measures by which pricing mechanisms can be used in Wales to discourage heavy consumption of products with a high alcohol content.

That’s some of the practical work around pricing and licensing that needs to be carried out in light of this new report from the NPHS.

There is a big role for doctors to play in all of this too, in trying to help change people’s attitudes and behaviour about drink, so that it’s not seen to be so acceptable to binge drink. Coupled with that, there should be more funding for services geared towards treating alcoholism.

These steps won’t change things overnight, but they have to be steps in the right direction surely?

1 comment:

  1. Binge drinking and broken shop windows - not to mention drunken teenagers falling of the castle walls - have been a feature of life in Denbigh since long before we arrived over 30 years ago.
    Is there ever anything much new apart from the Alcopops that recrit even younger drinkers?


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