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expert reaction to phe’s alcohol evidence review

Public Health England (PHE) have published an evidence review that looks at the impact of alcohol on the public health and the effectiveness of alcohol control policies.


Dr Niamh Fitzgerald, Lecturer in Alcohol Studies, University of Stirling, said:

“The Public Health England report released today presents a considered and robust analysis of how best to reduce the burden of alcohol-related harm in the UK, which remains high, despite recent falls in consumption.

“Their conclusions that legislative measures to control the price, availability and other marketing of alcohol will reduce health and other harms experienced by drinkers and those around them are in line with those of previous UK and international reports.  Unfortunately, the UK Government has consistently failed to take note of this evidence, preferring instead to work closely with the big alcohol corporations whose primary goal is profit, not health.

“There is an opportunity now for the new Conservative administration to stand up for health, and allow the UK to take its place as a leader in public health measures for alcohol as we have been for tobacco.  If they fail to do so, they will not only fail to prevent alcohol related harms and deaths going forward, but can expect to face further shame as the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland look to push ahead with reforms that protect children and reduce inequality, without affecting moderate drinkers.”


Prof Peter Anderson, Professor, Substance Use, Policy and Practice, Newcastle University, said:

“Without doubt, this report is the world’s gold standard public health report on alcohol. Public Health England should be congratulated in getting it in the public domain.  The challenge is to get the effective recommendations implemented and to promote a sea-change in social norms that the harmful use of alcohol is no longer accepted. The government cannot ignore this report and has the opportunity to do something for the good of the health and well-being of the English people.

“The report shows conclusively that if the country wants to do something about reducing the harm done by alcohol, it has to address the drinking of the middle-aged.

“The report is critical of alcohol industry action to date – if the industry wants to be a trusted partner in reducing the harm done by alcohol, it has to get its act together and do something that actually reduces the harm done by alcohol and demonstrates, to the acceptable standards of public health, that its actions have actually made a difference.”



‘The public health burden of alcohol and the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of alcohol control policies: an evidence review’ was published by PHE on Friday 2 December 2016.


Declared interests

Dr Niamh Fitzgerald: “No vested interest – but authored Four Nations which highlighted how poorly Westminster are performing compared with the devolved administrations on this issue as reported here:”

Prof Peter Anderson: “I have received fees from ABInBev, the world’s largest brewer of beer, for giving public health advice to its drinking goals.”


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