Thursday, 5 July 2012
Almost half of adults in Wales’ capital city drink more than the recommended daily amount, according to a new report by public health experts.
Across Cardiff and the neighbouring Vale of Glamorgan, 47 per cent of adults admitted drinking above the recommended alcohol limits in the previous week, while more than a quarter (28 per cent) report binge drinking.
And excessive drinking is now more common in higher income groups, although those from poorer communities are more likely to die from alcohol-related illnesses.
The new findings come in the latest Annual Report from Cardiff and Vale University Health Board’s Director of Public Health, Dr Sharon Hopkins, entitled “Alcohol and Its Impact on our Communities”.
The report, which has just been published, also shows that nearly 3,000 people attended the Emergency Unit at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff with an alcohol-related issue in 2010/11, with more people attending at weekends.
In her report, Dr Hopkins argues that the time has now come for the Welsh Government to lobby Westminster to set a minimum unit price for alcohol of 50p.
Dr Hopkins said: “We spent around £42.1 billion in the UK in 2010 on alcohol, which is around one third of the UK spend on the National Health Service.
“Alcohol has become more affordable and more available than ever in recent years, with people beginning to drink earlier, drinking more excessively and suffering alcohol-related problems sooner than we’ve seen in the past.
“Admissions to hospital for alcohol-related illnesses are rising and the Welsh NHS spends around £85m on treating these conditions every year.
“We know that the single most critical factor in limiting people’s alcohol consumption is actually price. With many supermarkets viewing alcohol as a ‘loss leader’, it’s time we started to look very seriously at setting a minimum unit price which will actually be a deterrent to people consuming dangerously high levels of alcohol.
“If we don’t, we risk seeing an increase in all the social and health problems which alcohol misuse can lead to, including higher levels of anti-social behaviour, violence, aggression and domestic abuse.
“The UK government is planning to set a minimum price for alcohol, which has always been supported by the Welsh Government. I would like to see the Welsh Government influencing the debate and asking colleagues in Westminster to consider setting that minimum price at 50p, which is the level we know will have a positive impact in terms of reducing harmful levels of alcohol consumption.”
Dr Hopkins’ full report is available on the Cardiff and Vale UHB website at http://www.cardiffandvaleuhb.wales.nhs.uk/opendoc/192544