Alcohol-related deaths double - ONS

Alcohol-related deaths double - ONS

Alcohol charity Drinkaware has urged the Government to avoid a knee-jerk reaction to figures showing a sharp rise in alcohol-related deaths in the UK.

The industry-funded responsible drinking organisation has warned that education is as much part of the long-term solution to reducing alcohol-related harm as punitive measures on price and promotions.

Around one fifth of men and one in seven women over the age of 16 drink more than twice the recommended daily maximum every week, according to the UK's Office of National Statistics (ONS).

Its latest Social Trends report on Britons' lifestyles, published late last week, revealed that alcohol-related deaths more than doubled between 1991 and 2008, to 9,031 from 4,144.

The report comes as the new Coalition Government in the UK is considering a fresh strategy to tackle excess drinking, including an "overhaul" of the current licensing system and a possible ban on below-cost sales of drinks.

The Government's advisory body on drugs and alcohol has called for a minimum price on drinks.

"Supply and price are not the only factors driving alcohol misuse - demand and attitudes towards alcohol are crucial," said Drinkaware CEO Chris Sorek.

"Educating people about the effects of regularly drinking to excess and providing practical tips on cutting down will help change people’s behaviour towards alcohol and discourage the acceptability of drunkenness," he said.

However, Sorek added that strong action is needed. "With the stark increase in alcohol-related deaths in the UK, it’s vital now, more than ever, that we tackle the harms caused by alcohol misuse," he said.

Despite the rise in alcohol-related deaths, the ONS figures showed that a majority of people reported that they drink within the Government daily guidelines of no more than four units of alcohol for men and three units for women.

For the full ONS report, click here.