Home   Contact Phil   

Phil Mellows is a freelance journalist living in Brighton  


         Phil's Diary October 20, 2009



The ups and downs of alcohol consumption

It’s Alcohol Awareness Week (except is Scotland where they had it early) and organiser Alcohol Concern commissioned, as it the custom, some startling research to kick it off.

Professor Martin Plant of the University of the West of England, author of a book called Binge Britain, predicts that if we carry on drinking like this alcohol will claim the lives of 90,000 people over the next decade. That’s about the population of Bath, Professor Ian Gilmore of the Royal College of Physicians helpfully points out.

Except that Alcohol Concern’s publicity, quoting the British Medical Association, starts by saying “Alcohol consumption in the UK has increased rapidly in recent years…” Really? Depends what you mean by “recent”.

Over the last four years or so alcohol consumption has been in decline. Figures released by the British Beer & Pub Association – also for Alcohol Awareness Week – show that it’s down by 11 per cent in the past year, the fastest collapse since 1948.

It’s probable that the recession has played its part in this, a recession that by throwing people into unemployment and despair is, on past evidence, likely to bring an increase in those self-medicating their depression with alcohol.

The health lobby, which has committed itself to the theory that there’s a causal link between overall alcohol consumption and the level of alcohol problems is going to have to deal with that contradiction.

Mischievously, and nicely tongue-in-cheek, the BBPA projects, as a result of falling consumption, a decline in alcohol problems and their cost to the state using the University of Sheffield formula the lobby is resting its case on.

I never thought I’d ever accuse the BBPA of mischief. Must be new chief Brigid Simmonds. Let’s have more of it!

Back to diary archive



Writing... Journalism... Research... Awards Judging... Pub Business Advice... Pub Crawls
Contact Phil