“Excessive drinking still causes a huge amount of harm in this country, both in terms of violent crime and harm to people’s health,” said Hugh Whittall, Director of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. “The Government has an ethical obligation to do more to tackle this problem, and the measures outlined today seem to be a small step in the right direction.”

“However, improved enforcement is only going to be one part of the answer. Changing people’s attitudes towards drinking is a huge challenge and there is a long way to go yet.”

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics, an independent advisory body, highlighted excessive alcohol consumption as a huge public health problem in a report in 2007.

“Our recent report on public health recommends that the Government should raise prices and restrict the availability of alcohol,” said Hugh Whittall. “The Government should also ensure that drinks companies, shops and pubs act more responsibly, by not encouraging people, especially young people, to drink too much.”

Background figures

The annual number of deaths due to medical conditions caused by alcohol in the UK doubled from just over 4,000 in 1991 to over 8,000 in 2005. In 2004, the Government calculated that the cost of alcohol-related harms in England was £20 billion per year, and that alcohol misuse was involved in approximately half of all violent crimes (1.2 million violent incidents).

Find out more about the Council's work on public health.

For further information

Catherine Joynson
Communications & External Affairs Manager
Nuffield Council on Bioethics
28 Bedford Square
London WC1B 3JS
Tel: +44 (0)20 7681 9619
Mob: +44 (0)7747 635863
Email: cjoynson@nuffieldbioethics.org