Daily Archives: 05/07/2014

Public Health England and alcohol

Public Health England have just released their business plan for 2014-2015
Public Health England
And it’s great to see that alcohol is one of their key strategy areas.  However I was a little underwhelmed when I read their key actions.  Compare and contrast:
  • Tobacco; deliver 750,000 quit attempts through the Smokefree marketing campaigns by March 2015
  • Alcohol: produce a report for government on the public health impact of alcohol and possible evidence-based solutions by Spring 2015
The tobacco one feels robust whereas the alcohol one feels a bit soft to me.  Yes I appreciate that it is important that research is done but the evidence based solutions already exist thanks to the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE).  There is a whole pathway of evidence based solutions for treatment and management of alcohol use disorders (http://pathways.nice.org.uk/pathways/alcohol-use-disorders).  That IS the public health impact of alcohol.
We need a marketing campaign just like the Smokefree one to tackle drinking like we tackle smoking.  We should be actively helping, encouraging and educating those who are drinking more than the Govt recommended guidelines with cutting down and managing their drinking.  Yes there are Alcohol ‘Identification and Brief Advice’ (ABI) interventions which research has shown is suitable for around 25% of the adult population but what about the other 75%?  I don’t mean this in some ‘nanny state’ way but so that people realise that alcohol is addictive and alcoholism is a progressive disease.  If we help people understand at this earlier stage they may never reach the alcohol use disorders stage and that is what public health is about.  Prevention rather than treatment.
*sigh* Sorry I get really bent out of shape about this & end up on my soapbox. Maybe it’s me, maybe I’ve misunderstood.  Maybe my view is too simple ……
What do you think?
78 days to go