‘People dying because alcohol is too cheap’ - health watchdog

AFFORDABILITY WARNING ... Colin Shevills, director of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office.

AFFORDABILITY WARNING ... Colin Shevills, director of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office.

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A HEALTH watchdog has renewed calls for a minimum price cap on alcohol – after shock new figures revealed the North East has the second- highest rate of drink-related deaths in the country for both men and women.

Research released by the Office of National Statistics show that 277 men died through drink-related conditions in the region in 2013 – up from 255 the previous year and 25 per cent higher than the national average.

The number of female deaths related to drink rose from 150 to 153 in the same period, 33 per cent above the national figure.

Only the North West has a higher rate of alcohol-related deaths.

Nationally, 43 per cent of males and 41 per cent of females who die from alcohol-related causes are below the age of 55. According to the statistics, 22.3 men in every 100,000 in the region suffered alcohol-related deaths, compared with the national figure at 17.8.

The figure for women is 11.6 – above the national percentage of 8.7.

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, said: “It’s no coincidence that as death rates rise, cheap alcohol has continued to be more accessible.

“Alcohol in the UK is now 61 per cent more affordable than it was in 1980, but the costs to our health and the wider economy are rising.

“To save lives, we must make alcohol less affordable.

“People are dying because alcohol is far too cheap, it’s available at all hours of the day and night and it’s far too heavily promoted.

“A minimum unit price of at least 50p will make cheap, strong alcohol less affordable to the vulnerable, younger and heavier drinkers.”

Twitter: @shieldsgazchris