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Clinicians call for action to stem alcohol misuse

Public sector professionals have joined forces to call on the government to take tougher action to reduce harmful drinking.

A survey of over 1,000 doctors, nurses, teachers, police and public health consultants shows the overwhelming majority wants tougher rules on alcohol.

The joint survey was carried out on behalf of Alcohol Concern, the UK Faculty of Public Health, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and the Royal College of Nursing.

Participants were asked about the government’s proposed code of practice for alcohol sales, detailed in the Home Office consultation Safe. Sensible. Social. Selling Alcohol Responsibly (closing today), which proposes banning drinks promotions that encourage irresponsible drinking and aims to help drinkers make healthy choices.

Almost two thirds (62%) of the participants in the survey thought there should be a minimum price per unit for alcohol to stop deep discounting in supermarkets, off-licences and shops.

The idea of a minimum price per unit of alcohol has been recommended by England’s chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson, but is not included in the proposed government code.

The survey also showed a strong level of support for banning drinks promotions as 77% said that price promotions in pubs, bars and clubs that encourage excessive drinking should be banned.

Other findings included:

  • 94% said customers should always be able to buy alcohol in smaller measures (e.g. 125ml wine, 25ml spirits) if they wish
  • 94% believed that information on the total units per drink should always be provided wherever alcohol is sold
  • 96% thought that all premises selling alcohol should operate a proof of age scheme.

Alcohol Concern chief executive Don Shenker said: “Doctors, nurses and police officers are ideally placed to suggest effective solutions. They’re at the front line, working with people with alcohol problems day in, day out. They’ve had enough of Government policy that appeases the alcohol industry instead of directly tackling problems. The Government must listen to their recommendations.”

Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the RCP, said: “These findings show that public sector workers overwhelmingly support tough actions to stem the growing tide of alcohol misuse, through banning price promotions, curbing underage sales and allowing consumers to make sensible choices through the provision of clear unit information.”

Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing said: “Alcohol misuse is our national disgrace. Up and down the country nurses see the devastating effect that alcohol has in blighting the lives of young and old alike.

“Our message is clear – there must be tighter regulation on the sale, labelling and advertising of alcohol to tackle this growing problem. We need to get the message through to consumers about the dire consequences of drinking to excess.”

source: On Medica

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