News roundup: February 2019

March 2019 | 10 minutes

February's monthly roundup from the Alcohol Policy UK blog.

Each month we publish a news roundup from the Alcohol Policy UK blog. Since the January roundup...

In the news

Alcohol-related deaths in England at all-time high

The number of alcohol-related deaths in England is at its highest level since records began, reports the Independent. It states someone is admitted to hospital every 30 seconds where drinking was a factor, based on 1.2 million hospital admissions in 2017-18 as we reported in the recent national alcohol statistics 2019 release. Dr Richard Piper, chief executive of Alcohol Change UK said heavier drinking among older people was starting to take its toll given 78% of deaths due to alcohol were amongst those between 40 and 69 years of age.

MUP in Wales making progress

The Welsh Government is pressing ahead with plans to introduce a 50p minimum unit price for alcohol in Wales following a public consultation. "We believe a 50p minimum unit price strikes a reasonable balance between the anticipated public health and social benefits and intervention in the market", said Health Minister, Vaughan Gething.

NACOA’s awareness week for children affected by a parent’s drinking

An international campaign to raise awareness of the millions of children affected by a parent's drinking took place last week, led by National Association of Children of Alcoholics (NACOA), reports Sky News. Calum Best, who was often pictured in the press with his father during his hard drinking days, told Sky News: "My dad was a heavy drinker... for every good time I had with my dad, there was always a bad time that sadly overshadowed it because of the drinking involved." George Best died in 2005 at the age of 59 after having received a liver transplant.

Guardian feature on alcohol in post-industrial cities

Britain's post-industrialist cities have become 'hooked on booze' according to a Guardian feature which says 'pubs, bars and nightclubs are the engine of the night-time economy, on which Britain’s struggling post-industrial cities and towns are becoming ever more dependent.' Post-industrial cities such as Newcastle, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham feature amongst the Which? University rankings of best cities for nightlife with some of the highest densities of pubs and bars per sq km but also tend also to be the ones with the highest rates of alcohol-related injuries. Recent data shows the number of reported alcohol-related ambulance callouts in city centres such as Newcastle's is rising, but the city has introduced a new licensing strategy that aims to prove its night-time economy is about more than just alcohol.

Order of drinks has no impact on hangover

'Beer before wine not fine, scientists find after vomit-filled tests', reports the Guardian. British and German researchers gave 90 volunteers with beer and wine to find out once and for all whether hangovers are worsened by the order in which drinks are necked. The results, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that the order drinks were consumed in had no impact on “hangover intensity", also discussed on a BBC Newsbeat show.

Richard Stephens of Keele University, said “Hangovers are mostly down to the quantity you drink. But there is some research that darker drinks give more severe hangovers because they contain compounds called congeners." Hangovers appear to be a miserable combination of inflammation, dehydration and low blood sugar levels, he concluded.

Daniel Radcliffe drank to alleviate anxiety

Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe has spoken about his alcohol use in his teens, saying he used drinking to alleviate anxiety when going out. "In my case the quickest way to forget you were being watched was to get very drunk and then as you get very drunk, you become very aware that people are watching more now because I'm getting very drunk, so I should probably drink more to ignore that more."

Pilot arrested after suspected of being over the alcohol limit

An American Airlines pilot was arrested at Manchester Airport on suspicion of being over the alcohol limit just minutes before a transatlantic flight, BBC news. Greater Manchester Police said it received a report that a pilot "may have been under the influence of alcohol" and was arrested on suspicion of performing an aviation function when over the prescribed limit of alcohol.

Increasing number of young people living alcohol-free

A Guardian article titled, 'I'm not spending money on that': the rise of the teetotal student, says a rising number of young people are abstaining from booze, with 36% of 16-24 year-olds in full-time education not touching alcohol, according to a survey by University College London. Some universities though are seeking to keep apace with this cultural shift, such as Swansea, St Andrews and the University of Aberdeen whom offer dedicated alcohol-free accommodation.

Pub on a dementia ward

Staff on a dementia ward have set up a "pub" to help patients enjoy themselves and socialise. Ward manager Kath Protheroe and clinical lead Dawn Griffin have launched 'The Derwen Arms' at the ward, which is similar to any other local, serving alcohol-free beers and refreshments has its own pool table and dart board. 'While the beer is strictly non-alcoholic and the darts are made out of plastic, that has not stopped the pub from being a hit with its customers', reports Wales online.

Drink-drive deaths at highest level since 2009

The number of drink-drive deaths has reached its highest level since 2009, according to provisional estimates reported by the Guardian. A DfT spokesman said “The government is working with industry to develop new roadside breath tests, meaning drink-drivers do not have the chance to sober up before being tested, while the Think! Mates Matter campaign had the biggest impact on young drivers’ attitudes to drink-driving in a decade." See our recent report on Scotland's drink drive limit reduction.

More drivers test positive for drugs than alcohol

In Wales, close to 550 motorists were arrested after failing drink or drugs tests over the Christmas period after 7,671 were tested between 1 December and 1 January as part of the all-Wales Christmas drink and drug driving campaign, BBC news. Supt Jane Banham, of the North Wales Police Roads Policing Unit, which led the campaign, said: "A notable difference for us in north Wales during this campaign is that there have been more drivers who have tested positive for drugs than alcohol.

Three-tyre driver could face prison sentence

A drink-driver who was stopped on a dual carriageway with just three tyres on his car has admitted his actions were "disgraceful", according to BBC news. Steven Lambert's front-right wheel was down to the metal rim when he was found to be three times the legal limit. Lambert will be sentenced on 22 March and could face a prison sentence.