Writing in The Lancet leading liver experts say poor alcohol regulation in the UK could lead to quarter of a million deaths in the next two decades. The doctors have suggested that if certain measures are put in place, including imposing a minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol, the death rate could be reduced by a third.
The debate continues to rage about how much the coalition government is doing to address the huge issue of alcohol related deaths. Sir Richard Thompson, President of the Royal College of Physicians asked “how many more people have to due from alcohol-related conditions….before the government takes the situation as seriously as it took tobacco?”.
The doctors, lead by Professor Sir Ian Gilmore said “Alcohol is not an ordinary commodity like soap powder…It is a drug, it happens to be legal, but it is a drug and there are more the 1.5 million people addicted to alcohol. We think, like other areas of public health, like smoking, like seatbelts, there is a strong case for tougher regulation and the most effective regulation would be around price”.
The current situation in the UK has been compared to 1960s France when liver disease deaths were related to the consumption of cheap alcohol – changes in marketing and price regulation altered this situation. Can the same change happen here? Surely as well as a change in price there has to be a significant shift in the way that addiction is recognised and treated? What are your thoughts?