Alcohol-related deaths in Britain rising fast

LONDON Thu Jan 28, 2010 3:16pm GMT

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Alcohol-related deaths in Britain have more than doubled over the past 16 years, official statistics showed Thursday, with those in managerial and professional jobs regularly drinking more than manual workers.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures showed deaths rose from 4,023 in 1992 to 9,031 in 2008.

Overall, death rates have doubled since the early 1990s, from 6.7 per 100,000 population to 13.6, with men twice as likely to die from alcohol consumption than women.

Charities like Drinkaware said irresponsible drinking was still a "huge and costly" problem across Britain, despite government efforts to educate and clamp down on binge drinking and cheap booze.

"It's shocking to discover that alcohol-related deaths are again on the increase, and it's vital now, more than ever, that we act to reduce the harms caused by drinking too much," said Drinkaware's chief executive Chris Sorek.

"With more and more people dying from alcohol misuse, it's essential we change people's relationship with drinking, and education has a key role to play," he said.

"Male alcohol-related deaths have more than doubled in the last 17 years, but women also need to vigilant."

The charity said the fact that average weekly consumption had decreased slightly in two years was a step in the right direction, but much more still needed to be done.

The ONS also published a comprehensive survey of drinking and smoking trends across the social classes. It found adults in managerial and professional jobs routinely drink more than manual workers, although the latter are twice as likely to smoke.

High flying professionals drank an average 13.8 units of alcohol per week compared with a weekly average of 10.6 units, the statisticians said.

A single 25 ml shot of any spirit with an alcohol by volume measure of 40 percent contains one unit of alcohol.

Around a fifth of professionals questioned for the lifestyle survey, conducted in 2008 which drew on 14,630 responses, had an alcoholic drink on five or more days in the week before being interviewed.

Only 11 percent of adults from blue-collar families had done so, however.

Although the survey found that adults were consuming less alcohol in 2008 (12.2 units) compared with 2006 (13.5 units), lots of people were still drinking heavily.

The study found 21 percent of men and 14 percent of women drank more than eight and six units respectively on at least one day in the week.

The figures showed manual workers were twice as likely to smoke (29 percent) as their professional counterparts (14 percent).

The ONS said that in 2008 smoking remained at its lowest level of 21 percent of adults, but over a quarter of these smoked heavily at a rate of 20 or more cigarettes a day.

(Editing by Steve Addison)

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