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Dept of Health calls for action to reduce avoidable deaths from alcohol

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP announced his plan to reduce the number of deaths occurring from alcohol misuse in parliament today.

The new report, titled 'Living Well for Longer', aims to tackle the problems highlighted in the recent Global Burden of Disease project, which ranked the UK consistently below the average of 15 comparable EU countries on the leading causes of the 5 big killer diseases; cancer, heart, stroke, respiratory and liver disease.

Alcohol is the third biggest behavioural risk factor for disease and death in the UK after smoking and poor diet. In 2011, there were nearly 6,800 deaths directly related to alcohol, and an estimated 15,000 in total attributable to alcohol in England. Rates of alcohol consumption have risen over the past 50 years, and in contrast to other EU countries, incidence of deaths due to liver disease is increasing.

The report calls for concerted action to narrow the gap between England and its European peers on premature mortality rates. The introduction of minimum unit pricing is one of several policy solutions, proposed by the Government in its Alcohol Strategy, which is estimated to save 700 lives per year after 10 years.