Intended for healthcare professionals


Preventing alcohol related harm to health

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 21 January 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c372

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. Trish Groves, deputy editor
  1. 1BMJ, London WC1H 9JR
  1. tgroves{at}

    Clamp down on alcohol promotion and set a minimum price

    Alcohol misuse poses a huge public health problem, particularly in Europe. More than a fifth of European adults admit to binge drinking (five or more drinks on one occasion, or 50 g alcohol) at least once a week; of all World Health Organization regions Europe has the greatest proportion of alcohol related ill health and premature death; and the overall social cost of alcohol to the European Union is around €125bn (£110bn; $180bn) a year.1 In Scotland alone, adults drink the equivalent of 46 bottles of vodka, or 537 pints of beer, or 130 bottles of wine each a year.2 In England, more than a quarter of adults drink at hazardous levels, and the NHS spends £2.7bn a year on treating alcohol related conditions,3 while the overall cost to society of alcohol use each year amounts to around £20bn. 4 It is no wonder, however, that so many people drink so much. Since 1980 the real price of alcohol has fallen by nearly 70% in the United Kingdom, the liberalisation of licensing laws has made alcohol more widely available, and fierce competition between supermarket chains …

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