UK alcohol consumption now same as in 1979

Alcohol consumption in the UK has fallen by almost a fifth over the last decade to the same level as in 1979, according to a video released by The Portman Group that aims to demystify the country’s drinking habits.

“We drink less, and less frequently, than we did ten years ago and harmful consumption patterns like binge drinking have fallen,” the Portman Group said following the release of the video, which was produced using data from UK government agencies including the Office of National Statistics (ONS), Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) and the Department for Transport (DfT).

“Among children, underage drinking has been in substantial decline alongside a decline in the number of children who think its ok to drink. We also know that alcohol-related crime has fallen (although alcohol is still linked to about half of all violent incidents) and that drink driving has halved in the last decade, continuing a decline that started in the 1980s.”

Overall, around 40 million adults in the UK choose to drink, with 10 million adults teetotal. While we drink the same as we did in 1976, we still drink more than we did in the 1960s, and less than 16 other European countries: Germany, France, Portugal, Ireland , Poland, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Croatia, Finland, Latvia, Serbia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Lithuania.

“In the debate about alcohol in our society these sustained and welcome trends are so often overlooked,” said Portman Group chief executive, Henry Ashworth. “Public, private and third sector organisations are working hard to reduce alcohol misuse and it’s time their achievements were given proper recognition.

“There is still work to do. We should not forget that whilst the national picture is generally improving, there are still communities that suffer disproportionately from alcohol misuse. Alcohol is still linked to about half of all violent incidents and alcohol-related hospital admissions are increasing among older age groups. These challenges need targeted, local interventions built on strong, effective partnerships between local authorities, health services, police, businesses and the voluntary sector. By working together, we can support those communities that need help and continue the positive trends we have seen over the last ten years.”

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