Figures are misleading

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I write with reference to the Alcohol Industry Partnership letter (October 11), claiming there is no ‘alcohol epidemic’ in the North East.

The Alcohol Industry Partnership is an alcohol industry-funded body, which is behaving in a very similar way to the tobacco industry, using selective data to try to suggest we don’t have a problem with alcohol in the North East.

Clearly it has set out to undermine the evidence and create confusion over who to trust and what to listen to.

Every day in our region, we are seeing first-hand the devastating effects of alcohol which is too available, too affordable and too widely promoted.

The evidence shows that enough alcohol is sold for every drinker over the age of 16 to consume more than 22 units per week, well above Chief Medical Officers’ recommended weekly guidelines of 14 units a week.

This is putting people at a greater risk of developing 60 different medical conditions, including at least seven cancers.

The widespread availability and promotion of alcohol at pocket money prices continues to cost the region almost £1 billion each year.

We know that 45% of people are still drinking at risky levels, contributing to over 67,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions a year in the North East according to the latest figures.

While we are making progress in tackling the issues in our region, the North East continues to have some of the worst problems in the country with alcohol.

The only answer to reducing harm is for significant numbers of people to drink less. That means less alcohol being sold – something the Alcohol Information Partnership’s funders show no signs of supporting.

Colin Shevills,

Director of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office