News roundup: September 2018

Maddy Lawson | October 2018 | 9 minutes

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

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

In the news

Fewer people receiving alcohol treatment

Alcohol treatment figures are falling despite record numbers of people with dependency, reports The Guardian. The figures come as MP Jon Ashworth pledges Labour would fund an alcohol care team in every district hospital at a cost of £13.5 million, though would result in savings of £40 million to the NHS. Figures suggest that at least 41 English hospitals do not currently have an alcohol care team in place - The Metro.

Criticism of UK’s drink-drive limit

Drink-drive limits are too high, suggests a BBC report. In England, Wales or Northern Ireland, the report says, “you can drink a surprising amount of alcohol before you go above the current drink-drive limits.” However, even within the limits – 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood – drinkers are up 13 times more likely to kill someone than a driver with a zero BAC. The drink-drive limit is the highest in Europe with most countries’ limits set at 50mg per 100ml. "The government currently has no immediate plans to lower the drink-drive limit" a Government spokesperson said.

Alcohol companies ignore advice to display health information on products

Alcohol labels are “years out of date” reports The BBC. It reports on “a new study which claims multi-national alcohol companies are choosing to ignore advice to display important health information on products.” Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said: "Referring people to industry-funded websites is not good enough... at the moment more information is required on a pint of milk than on a bottle of wine... the public deserves better and industry clearly won't do this voluntarily; it's time for government to act." See APUK analysis.

New drink free days campaign from Public Health England

A campaign aimed at encouraging middle aged drinkers to have drink free days hit the news. However the Drink Free Days campaign attracted criticism towards Public Health England for deciding to partner with the industry-funded charity Drinkaware - APUK analysis.

Doctors criticise Football Association over Bud Light sponsorship

Doctors have criticised the Football Association after a sponsorship deal between Bud Light and the England men’s team was made, reports The Mirror. BMA board of science committee member Dr Paul Darragh said, “It’s disappointing the England football team has accepted sponsorship from one of the world’s largest alcohol manufacturers with a track record of targeting young people." Katherine Brown of the Institute of Alcohol Studies said, “Evidence from home and abroad indicates that exposure to alcohol marketing, including via sports sponsorship, encourages children to drink more and at an earlier age."

New fines for heavy-drinking air passengers

Air passengers are being warned of hefty fines for “excessive drinkers”, reports The Guardian. Airports and airlines are now tracking and logging their results in order to better identify “at risk” groups, while a One Too Many public awareness campaign was launched in July.

Demand for alcohol-free university halls increasing

Demand for alcohol-free university halls is on the up according to a BBC report. With more than one in five students saying they are teetotal, universities are struggling to meet demand - more than 400 students applied for the 132 rooms available at St Andrews University last year.

Scotland's first alcohol-free festival

Scotland's first alcohol-free festival takes places next month, reports the Evening Times. The Mindful Drinking Festival is being run by Club Soda.


2000s 18-year-olds were modern UK’s peak drinkers

According to ONS statistics those aged 18 around the year 2000 were modern Britain's "peak drinkers", while today's young adults have abandoned socialising in pubs in favour of more time in the gym, reports The Telegraph. Today's youngsters have been named "generation sensible" as they are less likely to engage in risky behaviour such as binge drinking, drug-taking and unprotected sex.

Alcohol problems in the military

More than half of military personnel are at risk of alcohol problems, reports The Mirror. Troops were reportedly “encouraged to get drunk during a process called decompression”, and “thousands of troops with mental health issues are self-medicating with booze.” The MoD have been delivering brief interventions in a bid to reduce alcohol misuse.

Social warnings may be more effective than health warnings for middle-aged drinkers

Warning middle aged drinkers they risk embarrassing themselves is more effective at improving behaviour than highlighting the health implications, according to a Telegraph report. The Australian study found those aged 30 to 65 have only “minor” concerns about the health effects of alcohol and that failing to meet responsibilities and the possible loss of respect may be more effective than health messages.

Health benefits of a month off alcohol

Does a month off alcohol result in health benefits, The Guardian asked ahead of 'Sober for October'. Last year 75,000 people signed up for Go Sober for October, raising £5m. The Guardian found that a month off is likely to result in improvements in blood pressure and weight amongst heavy drinkers. However, “if someone’s got liver scarring or fibrosis, that certainly won’t change with just a month off,” Dr Mehta says. APUK guest post here.

Thousands of people could be affected by a “hidden epidemic” of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder

Thousands of people could be affected by a “hidden epidemic” of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), reports Sky news. At least two percent of people in the UK could be suffering from the long-term effects.