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21 February 2011, 09:35
Health experts are warning that an extra quarter of a million people could die through alcohol abuse in the next 20 years - unless tough new rules are brought in.
Three researchers, including Nick Sheron from Southampton Uni have released figures showing that rates of liver death in the UK are double the number of other countries with similar drinking habits.
They say the Government needs to increase the price of alcohol and make it less available.
The liver death rate in the UK is 11.4 per 100,000 people, more than double that of the other countries with similar drinking cultures and genetic backgrounds, such as Australia, Holland, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden.
The experts predicted that over the next 20 years between 160,000 and 250,000 extra lives could be lost in England and Wales if the Government fails to act.
Prof Gilmore, former president of the Royal College of Physicians, also contributed to the research, he said:
"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?
"We already know from the international evidence that the main ways to reduce alcohol consumption are to increase the price and reduce the availability of alcohol, yet the Government continues to discuss implementing marginal measures while ignoring this evidence.
"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, when will that happen?''
The authors said it was "relatively straightforward" for governments to control alcohol consumption through means such as price, place of sale and promotions.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "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.
"We are taking a bold new approach to public health. Our recent white paper set out our plan to ring-fence public health spending and give power to local communities to improve the health of local people.
"We will also be publishing a new alcohol strategy to follow on from the Public Health White Paper in the Summer.''