This week (13th December) we have seen MP’s debating the crucial issue of alcohol taxation. We have also seen 21 leading health figures and academics back a letter from Professor Sir Ian Gilmore on this very issue.
Here at Spectrum we certainly support Professor Gilmore who talks about the evidence showing a ‘direct correlation between alcohol affordability and levels of harm’. We see this ‘evidence’ every day as we work alongside our districts most vulnerable adults and see first-hand the effects of excessive drinking and our binge drinking culture.
We also share the view of The House of Commons Health Select committee which states that “increasing the price of alcohol is… the most powerful tool at the disposal of the government.”
Locally we are working hard to forge alliances with local hospitals, to create smooth pathways out of the health care system and into community treatment with the ultimate goal of complete recovery. We also provide successful, accessible treatment, prevention activities such as education in schools and more screening in GP practices, to identify people whose drinking places them at risk.
Whilst this is having a dramatic, positive impact locally we still need to have an effective national policy if we are to make a real difference.
We need an alcohol policy with teeth, a policy which finally takes on board crucial evidence, including the move towards a change in alcohol pricing and a curb on influential marketing as a means of tackling excessive and underage drinking.
Whilst our campaign locally supports, and will continue to support, those that need it the most this is not as impactful as increasing the price of the high strength lagers and ciders that are currently priced low in the off licenses and are therefore favoured by the alcohol dependent.
Let’s just hope that today’s headlines which claims that the Prime Minister has promised to ‘look carefully’ at proposals for minimum alcohol pricing hold true and that more is done to prevent deaths and alcohol-related diseases.