“Apocalypse” of alcohol-fuelled crime

Posted on by abbetadmin

“Apocalypse” of Alcohol-fuelled Crime Source – BBC Website http://www.bbc.co.uk ews/uk-scotland-12815538 The head of the prosecution service has warned of an “apocalypse” of alcohol-fuelled crime unless Scotland curbs its hard-drinking culture. Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini told the BBC Scotland that reducing the availability of cheap alcohol would help tackle the problem.

She said alcohol played a part in almost every violent crime in Scotland. Ms Angiolini said the country faced a “real apocalypse” unless it “gets to grips” with over-consumption. Ms Angiolini, who has announced she intends to step down after the Scottish elections in May, said continental style licensing-laws, with longer opening hours, had not worked. “Common sense” suggested reducing the availability of alcohol would reduce consumption and that making it more expensive would be one way of achieving that, she added. The Scottish government tried to introduce a minimum price of 45p per unit of alcohol but the measure was thrown out by the Scottish Parliament.

Ms Angiolini, who has been Lord Advocate for five years, said it was not her job as a prosecutor to provide the solutions to the problem. However, she added: “I do think price is a factor. I don’t think it is a panacea.” She added that education and a change in the culture around alcohol could have an effect. “But we have tried the continental approach to alcohol of having longer hours and cafe culture and I don’t think it has worked,” she said. “If you look at the liberalisation of the licensing laws in the mid-70s and the consumption of alcohol there is a very acute increase from that period.” The 50-year-old prosecutor said that when she was a teenager in the 1970s the price of a bottle of vodka would have been “prohibitive”, costing the equivalent of about £45 at today’s prices. “What I see now, in many cases, is both the accused and indeed victims purchasing very substantial quantities of very cheap alcohol,” she said. “It is consumed on a night out in quantities which, quite frankly, are fatal. I think that is something which is seen throughout the country.” She added: “It is a major health issue for the young people but from my own very narrow perspective, in terms of crime, there is a real apocalypse, if we don’t actually get to grips with the acceleration of the consumption of alcohol.”

New drink-code shunned by health-bodies

Posted on by abbetadmin

New drink code shunned by six key health bodies Source – The Guardian Six health-organisations have walked away from the government’s ‘responsibility deal’ on alcohol, saying that Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, has allowed the industry to drive through a series of insignificant pledges that will do nothing to reduce drink-related illness and deaths.

The deal, due to be announced on Tuesday, will see supermarkets, pubs and drinks-manufacturers pledge to do their bit to reduce harmful drinking, such as labelling bottles and cans with the number of alcohol units. Other pledges will be made by the food and fitness industries. Health representatives on the alcohol panel, which has been meeting for several months, say the government listened to industry and refused to allow issues that could make a difference, such as price and promotion to children, to be discussed. The Royal College of Physicians, the British Liver Trust, the British Association for the Study of the Liver, the Institute of Alcohol Studies, the British Medical Association and Alcohol Concern have written to Lansley, rejecting a deal that they say: Prioritises the views of industry.

Health groups’ proposals for bans on price-based advertising and cinema advertising during under-18 films, and health warnings on bottles and cans, were all turned down. Aims to “foster a culture of responsible drinking” – not tackle illness and death. Does not provide any way of measuring the success of the pledges. Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, special adviser on alcohol to the Royal College, said it was perfectly appropriate for government to take the economic impact of any policy into account, but “it is not acceptable for the drinks industry to drive the pace and direction that such public health policy takes.” The pledges would not give doctors, “who see the rising tide of health harm from drink in their daily practice, any confidence that they will get to the core of how we reverse this entirely preventable cause of illness and death”. Lansley has said there will be a government alcohol-strategy later in the year. But the six organisations say they have seen no evidence that the government is working towards “a comprehensive, cross-departmental strategy to reduce alcohol harm, based on evidence of what works, with rigorous evaluation”.

They also complain that government has not committed to any alternative actions – such as legislation – if the pledges fail to cut alcohol-related harm. Lansley said: “We have made clear from the start that the responsibility deal is just one strand of the government’s wide public health policy. It explicitly excludes cost and price competition to avoid conflicts of interest. The Treasury have already announced a new tax on super-strength beers; the Home Office have made their announcement on a ban in sales of alcohol below cost and plans to tighten licensing laws; and our public health strategy sets out how local areas will be given a ring-fenced public health budget to ensure alcohol misuse gets the priority it deserves. In tandem to this action, the responsibility deal is working with the industry on voluntary agreements to get speedier results. For example, to improve unit labelling. The Responsibility Deal has achieved more in the last six months than the previous Government’s Coalition for Better Health did in a year and a half. What is more, this is only the first step” Alison Rogers, chief executive of the British Liver Trust, said there was “a fundamental conflict of interest” for industry, whose objective is to sell more alcohol, sitting on a panel with the aim of reducing alcohol harm. “We know that the most effective measure we could be taking is to cut total population consumption and the drinks industry are never going to do that. Our fundamental concern is that they are sitting at a policy-making table here.

Drink deaths will cost an extra 250,000 lives by 2031

Posted on by abbetadmin

Drink deaths will cost an extra 250,000 lives by 2031 Source – The Guardian Up to 250,000 people could die because of alcohol over the next 20 years unless ministers take strong action to tackle Britain’s chronic drink problems, leading doctors are warning.

The prediction comes in edition of the Lancet medical journal by three senior experts on alcohol, two of whom are advising the coalition on how to reduce drink-related harm. In a scathing critique of the government’s approach to alcohol, the trio accuse ministers of pursuing policies that will make no difference to the soaring rates of drink-related liver disease. Ministers, including the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, are “too close” to the drinks industry and too reluctant to take effective steps, they say. They welcome the government’s decision to continue raising the cost of drink at 2% above inflation.

However, “plans to ban the sale of alcohol beverages below cost (duty plus VAT) and to increase duty on beer over 7.5% strength are inconsequential because of the tiny fraction of sales that fall into either category”, write Dr Nick Sheron, Professor Ian Gilmore and Professor Chris Hawkey. “These policies suggest that the government remains too close to the industry and lacks clear aspiration to reduce the impact of cheap, readily available, and heavily marketed alcohol on individuals and on society,” they write. Sheron, a clinical hepatologist, and Gilmore, the chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance of medical groups and charities, both serve on the Department of Health’s Responsibility Deal Alcohol Network along with representatives of the drinks industry.

The doctors estimated how many lives would be saved or lost in England and Wales by 2031, depending on whether ministers pursued a strategy of only minimal change or robust regulation, over and above those that are already expected on current trends. Liver deaths have more than doubled in the UK since 1986. Introducing a minimum price per unit of alcohol and adopting a French-style ban on drink advertising and sponsorship could together see liver death rates fall from the existing estimate of 18,000-30,000 to just 2,500 by 2019, they calculate. But allowing the current upward trajectory of such mortality to continue unchecked would lead to 77,000 extra liver deaths by 2031. However, the wider harms from alcohol, such as deaths from accidents and violence, could mean that as many as 160,000 to 250,000 lives are lost or saved over the next two decades, depending on whether effective action is taken or not.

Historical precedents, such as action to tackle the gin epidemic of 1730-50 and the Defence of the Realm Act in 1914, show that raising the price of alcohol and restricting its availability are the two proven ways of reducing drink-related harm, the authors argue. Yet ministers, they say, have rejected major changes in both areas. “How many more people have to die from alcohol-related conditions, and how many more families devastated by the consequences before the government takes the situation as seriously as it took the dangers of tobacco?” asked Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians, which represents hospital doctors. He accused ministers of ignoring international evidence showing that price rises and reduced availability are the best two ways to reduce consumption of alcohol. “Just as the government would expect us to treat our patients with effective medicines, we expect the government to take much stronger action to protect people from alcohol-related harm.” he said. “When will that happen?” The Department of Health rejected the doctors’ views. “The government has wasted no time in taking tough action to tackle problem drinking, including plans to stop supermarkets selling below-cost alcohol and working to introduce a tougher licensing regime,” said a spokeswoman. Reforming public health would also help, and there will be a new alcohol strategy in the summer, she added.

Survey reveals cost of alcohol abuse

Posted on by abbetadmin

The price of a drink Survey reveals cost of alcohol abuse Source – The Guardian

The toll that alcohol takes on many people’s lives is laid bare in a survey which has prompted fresh calls for action to tackle widespread chronic drinking across Britain. Alcohol’s role in everything from injury and relationship breakdown to trouble with the police, emerges in a poll commissioned by a group of senior doctors. Some 11% of people polled have seen a friend or relative’s relationship end as a direct result of heavy drinking. One in five (21%) know someone who has driven while over the legal alcohol limit. And 51% know someone who has been a victim of drink-related violence, or has been attacked themselves. The survey also found that 14% of children are being brought up in a family where at least one adult has a drink problem.

The YouGov poll, commissioned by the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG), paints a graphic picture of alcohol’s many negative consequences. The survey of 2,221 people found that: – 14% admit they have injured themselves while drunk; 2% have injured others. – 43% know at least one person with a drink problem, and 5% say they know more than five people. – 12% have a family member who they believe drinks too much. – 13% go to work at least occasionally feeling unwell due to a heavy drinking session, and 9% have taken time off for that reason. – 4% of women and 1% of men have been involved in domestic abuse linked to alcohol. – 11% know someone who has had to be treated in A&E because of alcohol. – 5% of men have ended up in trouble with the police for that reason. Young people are disproportionately likely to suffer harm.

Some 27% of 18 to 24-year-olds and 31% of 25 to 34-year-olds admit injuring themselves while drunk, while 12% and 15% respectively of the same age groups have taken time off work due to drink. “These findings show there’s a big problem in terms of harm, aggression, antisocial behaviour and actually some very sad outcomes,” said BSG spokesman Professor Chris Hawkey. “Dysfunctional and violent behaviour due to alcohol have become social norms. There used to be shame attached to alcohol dependence and its consequences, but clearly there’s much less of that around now.” He called on ministers to introduce a minimum price of 50p a unit and implement tough restrictions on the advertising of alcohol based on those in France, which bans drink ads on TV and in the cinema, and forbids alcohol sponsorship of sporting or cultural events.

Alcohol Concern, which represents drink treatment services, said the poll undermined industry claims that only a small number of people were affected by excess consumption. “This research shows drunkenness has become a cultural norm and is negatively impacting the lives of millions of people, many of whom are responsible drinkers,” said Don Shenker, the charity’s chief executive. He also called for tougher action against drinks retailers and promoters. “Their irresponsible practices are creating the mirage that drinking is a social right with no consequences.

The reality is far from that. What we have is alcohol being sold for pennies and an accepted culture of excess which blights our town centres and affects friends, neighbours and loved ones,” he added.Professor Steve Field, until recently president of the Royal College of GPs, welcomed the coalition’s plan to ban the sale of alcohol at below cost price. “This is a step in the right direction,” Field said, but added : “The policy must be kept under review: if it is not shown to make a difference on the public’s health, and on antisocial behaviour, then I would urge ministers to look again at a minimum price per unit of alcohol.” A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “The majority of people drink responsibly but these findings reflect that alcohol consumption is a serious problem for too many. No one thing will solve this complex challenge of alcohol misuse and the Government is taking action on all fronts including banning the sale of alcohol below cost price and giving local authorities more power over local licensing decisions.” She added: “It is not clear that national minimum unit pricing is the best way to reduce harm so we need to look at other options in England.” Return to All News

United States FDA Concerned Over Caffeine

Posted on by abbetadmin

The US Federal Drug Administration has issued warnings targeting specific drinks in a clampdown on alcoholic beverages with a high caffeine content. The drinks in question are mostly seen in the States, and are malt based and premixed drinks. The FDA is concerned that the drinks labelling does not state that adding caffeine is “generally recognised as safe”. In some cases, the drinks contained other stimulants alongside caffeine itself. The FDA website claims that they have data and expert opinion that caffeine can: “…mask sensory cues that people rely on to determine how intoxicated they are.

Kids as Young as 10 Are Drinking and Using Drugs

Posted on by abbetadmin

Edinburgh Evening News reported (22/11/10) that over the course of the year a total of 26 children had been reported for drink and drug misuse. Among them were four 10 year olds, all of which were reported between April and March. The children were referred to the Children’s Reporter, full title The Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration, a Scottish Government sponsored body that focusses on the needs of young and vulnerable children. Although the number is high, it is a reduction on the number of cases from last year, where a total of 53 children were identified, the youngest being 12 years old.

The Edinburgh Constabulary has put the drop down to new education incentives in schools and a focus on illegal sales of alcohol to minors. The Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, Dr Evelyn Gillian: “Parents, teachers, Police and local authorities all have a role to play to ensure that children are protected from the harm caused by alcohol”. “We should be giving children and young people a clear message that excessive drinking has more negative than positive consequences.” The manager of the East Region of the SCRA, Tom Philliben, said that the decline in numbers may be down to “pre-referral screenings”, where-by at risk children are identified at an even earlier stage. He added: “…there is still cause for concern when we are getting young children coming to the attention of the Reporter due to alcohol and drugs issues. Children referred in these circumstances are recognised to be at risk, and require intervention for their own care and protection.” The Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration website. Alcohol Focus Scotland. Return to Abbeycare News. Go Back 1 : Go Forward 1

Binge Drinkers Double Their Risk of Heart Disease

Posted on by abbetadmin

A study conducted by the Toulouse University Hospital, and published in the British Medical Journal, into the link between drinking habits and health have concluded that although their French participants drank more regularly than the Irish, it was the Irish binge drinking habit that resulted in higher levels of poor heart health.

The study compared the men’s choice of drinks, amount of drinks and regularity of drinking as well as their standard of overall health over a ten year period. The findings were that even if the French and Irish men drank the same amounts, over time it was the regularity and type of alcohol that had the most effect on the results. The Irish men tended to drink over the recommended amounts in single ‘sessions’, what is classified as Binge Drinking, where their French counterparts tended to drink smaller amounts, more regularly. The research found that three quarters of the French men tended to drink every day compared to 12% of the Irish, but although drinking more often they drank considerably less each time. Only 0.5% of the French admitted to drinking 5 small wines, or 3 pints of beer/lager in one sitting.

In Ireland, that number shoots to 9%. With the numbers involved, that means that although 7,500 French men admitted drinking daily compared to the Irish 1,200, only 50 French men could be considered ‘binge drinkers’ compared to 900 Irish. The 10 year follow up found that the binge drinking men had double the risk of heart attacks or death form heart disease than the regular drinkers. A representative of the British Heart Foundation, senior cardiac nurse Amy Thompson, has stated: “This reinforces what we already know, that drinking high levels of alcohol can be harmful to your heart.” The British Medical Journal The British Heart Foundation.

Tesco Hit Hard With Pre Christmas Alcohol Ban

Posted on by abbetadmin

One of Scotland’s largest supermarkets has failed a Police sting operation that intended to catch retailers selling alcohol to under age consumers. The St Rollox branch of Tesco in Glasgow, the biggest retailer so far to be hit with measures, has been given a suspension of it’s alcohol license – but only for the self service counters – for four weeks commencing Wed 17 November.

This ends on ly 10 days before Christmas and is expected to hit the store hard during one of the busiest times of year for retail shopping, and definitely the busiest for alcohol sales. Glasgow City councillors were shown evidence that a 16 year old managed to purchase alcoholic beverages form the store using their self service counter, and was not challenged for his identification at any stage. The councillors have been criticised for the limitations of the ban, which some pressure groups believe should be a wholesale ban of alcohol products for the extent of the suspension. Glasgow council in the past has been reported as ‘heavy handed’ when dealing with small retailers failing their first Police spot check.

SNP vs MSPs in Minimum Pricing Debate

Posted on by abbetadmin

05 November 2010 The First Minister Alex Salmond has re-ignited the minimum pricing debate in Holyrood, as he challenged Members of the Scottish Parliament to back the now notorious element of the controversial Alcohol Bill. Appealing to the MSP’s sense of ‘leadership’ he asked them to put aside their personal opposition to the bill; saying: “.. the cost of alcohol is key in terms of consumption levels. Yet, to date, no credible alternative proposals for tackling the low cost of alcohol have been put forward.” “This Parliament now has the opportunity to show some leadership by supporting the minimum price proposals.” The legislation has already faced various set-backs, and has been roundly rejected on various occasions by the sitting government. Return to Abbeycare News. Go Back 1 : Go Forward 1 Return to All News

Former Chief Drugs Advisor: ‘Alcohol More Harmful Than Heroin’.

Posted on by abbetadmin

The former UK Chief Drugs Advisor, Professor David Nutt, has co-authored a paper for the medical journal ‘The Lancet’ that claims that alcohol is more dangerous than either heroin or crack cocaine.

The paper devised a ranking scale to rate the most prevalent illegal drugs against each other, judging them by their effect on the user and on society in general. Ranked among the worst were alcohol and methamphetamine, but among the least damaging were ‘danger drugs’ ecstasy and LSD. Tobacco and cocaine were deemed equally harmful. Professor Nutt was sacked from his role as the UK Drugs Advisor by the then Home Secretary Alan Johnson (Labour) after publicly stating his belief that alcohol was/is more dangerous than ecstasy or LSD.

The public and professional support for his stance was such that he was able, after his sacking, to establish the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs with Dr Les King, who had left his own government position over Professor Nutts treatment. The ranking system that they used looked at each of the chosen drugs and assigned them scores related to the harm they cause to either the individual using the drug, or to society in general.

Areas of interest include mental/physical health, crime and the cost of crime prevention, possibility of addiction, cost to communities etc. The results were delivered in two demographics, the danger to the user and the danger to society. Then the score earned on both can be tallied and the totals show the more/most harmful of drugs. This new scale is widely different to the current system of classification in place in the UK and the authors claim that it is much more accurate and relevant, as: “the present drug classification systems have little relation to the evidence of harm.” The paper also states, regarding their findings: “They also accord with the conclusions of previous expert reports, that aggressively targeting alcohol harms is a valid and necessary public health strategy.” It was Professor Nutt who, in 2007 and while still holding his government advisor role, tried to introduce the same new ranking system to the UK. The sitting Labour governments Home Office had only recently given an ’emergency’ Classification B to the legal high mephedrone (meow meow).

The proposed system contradicted this move, claiming that alcohol was at least 5 times more harmful. Neither classification method ranks the effects of drugs when taken together, or when misusing two or more over a period of time. The story on the BBC. Professor Nutt is sacked for speaking out. The Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs. Return to Abbeycare News. Go Back 1 : Go Forward 1 Return to All News