Alcohol – the downside



Tobacco causes 11.7% of disability adjusted life years

Alcohol causes 10.3% of disability adjusted life years.

Liver disease is responsible for 70% of directly recorded mortality from alcohol.

Alcohol causes 80% of deaths from liver disease.

Liver death rates are a measure of the damage done to society by alcohol.

WHO liver death rates are 2.6 per 100,000 in New Zealand , 5.3 in Sweden and 11.4 in UK

There is a serious alcohol problem in the UK and in Ireland.

Effective alcohol control policies have three components – price, place of sale (availability) and promotions and product.

The drinks industry pretends that these are not proven beyond doubt and promote policies based on education, information and deregulation.

Alcohol consumption is controllable by government action – The gin epidemic of 1730 to 1750 was due to wide availability of cheap gin and also resulted from deregulation in 1690 (Act for encouraging of the distillation of brandy and spirits from corn). 2 pints of gin per week for every Londoner was huge level of consumption. The Gin Act of 1751 stopped this by restricting the sale to large licence holders and rapidly increasing duties.

The next alcohol peak was at the beginning of last century when mortality from cirrhosis and alcoholism was 25 per 100,000 in England and Wales. This drink batter was damped down by the Defence of the Realm Act in 1914 which limited pub opening hours to noon to 3 and 6.30 to 9.30. Currently, the UK government has a policy of duty escalation at 2% above inflation to effect some price limiting control.

The French alcohol problem was addressed by improving quality and increasing the price.

Here in Dublin City in the development plan for the next five years, we belatedly tried to restrict the growth of access by limiting the planning for off-licences. That was not overly popular among some of my young supporters but it is in the interests of public health. I will be campaigning to get alcohol made more expensive here especially in off-licences. Professor Frank Murray told me that there is one new 40 year old female per week appearing in Beaumont Hospital with jaundice from alcohol induced liver failure. So the problem is here and now.