The number of patients being admitted to hospital as a direct result of alcohol abuse are increasing year on year in North Yorkshire with nearly 200 patients dying in the county.
Government statistics show that problem drinking is not confined to the young but is a particular worry among those aged 45 to 64.
A new health blueprint drawn up to tackle the menace in the county aims to target this age range and pushes for considering a minimum price for alcohol.
The executive member for public health at North Yorkshire County Council, Coun Don Mackenzie, said: “For too many people, harmful or hazardous drinking has become normal.
“We need to shift that culture so that low risk drinking becomes the norm.
“This is so right across a person’s life, from pregnancy and foetal development, through teenage years, young adulthood and leaving home, to the stresses of work and middle age and then retirement and risk of isolation in old age.
“In North Yorkshire, although around one in seven adults abstain from alcohol, around a quarter of all people who drink are estimated to be drinking at harmful or hazardous levels.”
The action plan considering ways to tackle the problem has been thrown open to public debate. It has been drawn up by North Yorkshire County Council’s Health and Adult Services department and by working with partner organisations it aims “to reduce the harm caused by alcohol to individuals, families, communities and businesses in North Yorkshire while ensuring that people are able to enjoy alcohol responsibly”.
Among other aspects, the strategy will:
Support schools to make pupils aware of the risks of alcohol abuse;
Take steps to prevent under-age sales;
Increase the uptake and ensure the effectiveness of the GP-led NHS health checks to identify people in the 40-64 age range at risk of harm from alcohol;
Explore the feasibility of a minimum price of alcohol.
“Alcohol-related hospital admissions are increasing year on year and nearly 200 people die in North Yorkshire every year as a result of alcohol.
“It is associated with crime, including domestic violence and sexual crime, and features in
antisocial behaviour in particular with over a quarter of incidents associated with alcohol in some areas,” Coun Mackenzie said.
It is estimated that between seven to eight per cent of drinkers in North Yorkshire are classed are “high risk”.
The county is following a trend seen all over England for a steady increase in the rate of those dying from alcohol among in men and a flattening off of the rate following a slight increase for women.
The highest rates for both men and women are in Scarborough, a draft report prepared ahead of the public consultation says.
The Government has announced it has dropped plans to bring in minimum price for alcohol, with Ministers claiming there was no evidence it would be effective and would punish
those people who drink responsibly.
The public consultation on the strategy has now begun, and people have until May 28 to give their views.
See further details at http://www.northyorks.gov.uk/alcoholconsultation