National Alcohol Strategy – Press Statement By Institute of Alcohol Studies

A focus on the health problems caused by alcohol to the
virtual exclusion of social damage will result in the Government’s
missing the opportunity to make a real difference.

This is the message of the Institute of Alcohol Studies’
submission to the Department of Health in support of Alcohol Concern’s
Proposals for a National Alcohol Strategy for England.
“In societies such as ours,” says the IAS, “alcohol is more accurately
described as a social problem that can have medical complications than
the other way around. For example, the strong associations of alcohol
with crime and anti-social behaviour are also well known.”

The IAS emphasises that the need and justification for a
national alcohol policy is not that drinkers may harm themselves but
that excessive and inappropriate consumption can cause harm to others,
particularly family members.

Alcohol Concern’s proposed strategy also makes modest
suggestions for a reduction in per capita consumption, something which
the Government has turned its face against, preferring the arguments of
the industry which says that the problem is restricted to the small
number who are alcohol dependent or abuse alcohol. The industry also
habitually attempts to discredit the “whole population theory”.

The IAS challenges the Government’s position, pointing out
that “researchers analysed information on drinking habits in fourteen
regions of England. They found that, exactly as the whole population
theory predicted, the regions with the lowest average consumption had
the fewest heavy drinkers and vice versa – the regions with the highest
average per capita consumption also had the highest proportions of heavy
drinkers…and the highest prevalence of people reporting symptoms of
alcohol dependence.”

The IAS attacks statements by Health Minister, Tessa Jowell,
and says that it hopes the Government does not intent systematically to
divert attention from the real issues by raising the red herring of
prohibition.

Download IAS response to proposals for a National Alcohol Strategy for England. (pdf  130kb)