Experts have warned of an extra 160,000 to 250,000 deaths from alcohol in the UK over the next 20 years unless the government take specific action.

Researchers from universities in Liverpool, Southampton and Nottingham have called for a more serious government campaign to significantly reduce alcohol-related deaths.

Dr Thomas Young, an emergency physician at Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital agrees that this is an area requiring greater attention from the government.

”We get many patients in A & E each week for alcohol-related harm. Of course other causes of death and suffering need to be targeted too but it is very important to specifically target alcohol.”

The authors behind this research highlighted France as a prime example of alcohol death reduction following the introduction of strict marketing regulations.

France’s situation before the regulations were introduced was compared to the UK at present, with supermarkets selling alcohol at reduced rates.

Alcohol deaths are set to significantly rise over the next 20 years

Dr Thomas Young remains somewhat sceptical on the need to follow France’s example in this instance.

”The UK can learn much from other countries’ examples but supporting one’s decision making with evidence involves an appraisal of the evidence. We should ask more about the French experience and the French themselves.”

”I say this only semi-light-heartedly, we wouldn’t want to start a revolution.”

The authors, all of whom work to raise awareness of alcohol abuse, say that liver disease is responsible for 70% of alcohol-related deaths in England and Wales each year.

In turn, it is also stated that around 80% of deaths from liver disease annually are caused by alcohol.

As a result of this the authors believe that liver mortality is an accurate indicator of harm from alcohol.

The study notes that deaths from liver disease in the UK have more than doubled in the last 25 years, whilst this has not been the case in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands.

The authors have specifically called for a framework to be introduced in the UK highlighting the level of liver-related deaths that should be seen as a reasonable target.

The government’s plan to keep duty on alcohol at 2% above inflation was acknowledged by the researchers as a positive.

Measures such as increasing tax on beer over 7.5% in alcohol percentage was however seen as fairly insignificant.

Dr Thomas Young believes that both alcohol and other drugs should be given greater focus, with the aim of significant harm reduction.

”There was a lot about this in the media last summer. Alcohol is a far bigger problem all round, though drugs should also be one of the other government targets.”

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