The UK drinks industry is once again dealing with a backlash over health fears

The UK drinks industry is once again dealing with a backlash over health fears

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has admitted a reported rise in UK alcohol-related deaths is “concerning”, but welcomed a review of how hospital admissions involving drink are calculated. 

New statistics on alcohol consumption in England were published today (31 May), showing there were 6,669 deaths directly related to alcohol in 2010 - a 1.3% rise on the previous year. This was a 22% increase on the 2001 figure (5,476), the report found. 

But the NHS report also found the number of people drinking more than the government’s guideline is in decline. 

WSTA interim chief executive Gavin Partington said: "Whilst the continued rise in alcohol-related deaths is concerning, the long-term downward trend in adults drinking over the recommended limits is positive." 

The group also welcomed the launch of a consultation looking at the best way of estimating alcohol-related hospital admissions. “It is in everyone’s interest that we have an accurate and consistent picture of the scale of such admissions,” Partington added.  

On a positive note, he said: "The decline in underage drinking and the fact that young people are themselves becoming less tolerant of drinking amongst their peers is particularly welcome. It suggests messages about the risks of underage and excessive drinking are getting through."

Chris Sorek, chief executive of alcohol health charity Drinkaware, said it was “encouraging to see green shoots of behaviour change”. But he added: “Much more must be done to help people make healthier choices about alcohol."

And Diageo GB's director, Andrew Cowan, said some of the figures "demonstrate a further step in the right direction." 

He added: “There is no room for complacency when it comes to alcohol misuse, but these figures do show that efforts by the drinks industry and Government to tackle the issues of the minority who misuse alcohol are having a positive impact.”


Meanwhile, a separate study from Oxford University, reported in the UK media today (31 May), suggested that cutting the recommended daily drinking limit to half a unit, equivalent to a quarter of a pint of lager, would save 4,600 lives a year.