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What the RCP thinks about alcohol

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) is a founding member of the Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA), a group of more than 50 health and alcohol organisations. We work together to promote evidence-based policies to reduce the damage caused by alcohol misuse.

Key recommendations

The AHA’s key recommendations are based on clear evidence that the most effective way to reduce the harm from alcohol is to reduce its affordability, availability and attractiveness:

  1. There should be a minimum price per unit of alcohol and higher taxation for the strongest and cheapest products.
  2. Shops and supermarkets should only be able to sell alcohol at certain times and in certain areas, and licensing authorities should have greater control over the total availability of alcohol in their areas.
  3. Alcohol advertising and sponsorship should be more tightly restricted, and ultimately banned, and products should carry clear and legible health warnings.

In 2015, 8,758 people in England died as a result of disease known to be related to alcohol. Among those aged 15 to 49 in England, alcohol is now the leading risk factor for ill health, early mortality and disability.

Alcohol is the fifth leading risk factor for ill health across all age groups. Alcohol misuse costs the NHS an estimated £3.5 billion a year, and the UK economy between £27–52 billion a year.

For a detailed account of the impact of alcohol on public health and the effectiveness of alcohol control policies, read the AHA’s manifesto Health First or download Public Health England’s 2016 review of alcohol control policies.