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People still ignore alcohol warnings

27th October 2011

Public health minister Anne Milton has issued a stark new warning over alcohol.

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She said that many people are still refusing to accept the harm that alcohol can do to their bodies, which contrasts to the risks of smoking and obesity which are being acknowledged.

Ms Milton has disclosed that discussions between the Department of Health and the Treasury are ongoing on how alcohol pricing could be used to encourage safer drinking.

However, speaking to the House of Commons science and technology committee, which is looking into the evidence base for current alcohol guidelines, she added that there was currently no evidence available to justify altering the recommended safe limits.

Ms Milton said: “I still think that whereas people accept the harm that smoking causes, they accept the problems being overweight causes, there is still some issue about accepting the harm that alcohol causes.

“I think that’s still a message that we haven't got through in the guidelines.”

She told the committee it remained unclear whether price changes could alter habits, particularly among problem drinkers although Scotland is planning to introduce a minimum price per unit for alcohol.

Labour’s shadow public health minister Diane Abbott said she felt the government should look at minimum pricing.

She said: “A recent report predicted that binge-drinking will cost the NHS £3.8 billion by 2015, with 1.5 million A&E admissions a year.

“In Scotland, Alex Salmond is pushing ahead with minimum pricing policies, and yet in England there is a deafening silence where a substantive strategy should be.”

 

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