Minimum alcohol price 'would save 11,500 pensioners'

 
Drink promotion Over-65s are more likely to drink every day and drink alone than younger drinkers

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The deaths of 11,500 pensioners could be avoided over the next decade if minimum alcohol pricing is rolled out in England, according to new research.

The BBC's Panorama programme commissioned the research from statisticians at Sheffield University.

They examined the likely outcomes if Scotland's planned 50p per unit minimum price was applied in England.

It is estimated that 1.4m older people in Britain are drinking too much, leading to more hospital admissions.

Sarah Wadd, director of substance misuse and ageing research at the University of Bedfordshire, said: "We might be on a cusp of an epidemic of people drinking problematically in old age."

Drinking alone

Scotland will become the first place in the UK to introduce minimum drink pricing and the coalition government has proposed a minimum price of 40p per unit of alcohol in England and Wales in an effort to "turn the tide" against binge drinking.

The plan is being challenged by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) both at the European Commission and through the Scottish courts.

In England last year, there were more admissions to hospital of over-65s for alcohol-related injuries and illnesses than in the 16-24-year-old category.

Researchers say roughly one-third of older drinkers are thought to first develop their drink problem in later life.

Dr Richard Aspinall, a consultant hepatologist at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, said the amount people drank on their own at home could slowly creep up.

"We think of a very visible social disorder, consequences of young people binge drinking on a Saturday night in our town centres, but what is much more hidden is quiet, below-the-radar drinking at home."

Correction 28 September 2012: The main figure in this story has been amended from 50,000 to 11,500 after it emerged that there had been an error in the calculations carried out for Panorama by the School of Health and Related Research at the University of Sheffield.

 

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  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 73.

    Well that's bad news for the Government who thought that cutting drinking would save money. If it means people living longer then it might further drain resources. I guess the Government will start to encourage binge-drinking now then.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 72.

    Oh yes, we must save these pensioners from themselves. They have so many more years to live if only they'll cut down on the booze, so many more years in which to have their rapidly wearing out bodies and minds 'repaired' by the NHS, so many more years to draw their state pensions, to fill up care homes, etc., etc.

    We MUST keep them alive at all costs.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 71.

    Good grief, why don't we just make everything too expensive to do then only the rich will be able to drink, fly, drive or leave their houses for anything other than work.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 70.

    Older people turn to drink probably because they have nothing else to do or are fed up. They sit in front of the TV watching endless chat shows, cooking programs, moving house programs and quiz programs, etc. If there was a real community out there where they could get involved and meet friends, go for walks, do sport activities and other interesting things they wouldn't drink so much either.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 69.

    This a complete joke if people want to drink and destroy their livers then i say let them but dont go punishing the people who like a drink on the odd social event.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 68.

    Little_Old_Me- If you're actually George Osbourne i'm moving to Germany!

  • Comment number 67.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 66.

    When are governments going to realise that increasing taxes isn't the solution, but lowering taxes is? Lowering taxes means more disposable income, which means more consumer spending, and more importantly, more savings. Taxation only takes away from disposable income, and fractures the economy. And telling people what they can and can't do with their own bodies is also incredibly patronising.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 65.

    Yes, lets prevent pensioners enjoying a drink and let them freeze to death because they can't afford to pay fuel bills which have doubled because of nonsensical green subsidies. Just send a few million to India instead.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 64.

    How about addressing the poverty that blights many elderly people, which leads to premature deaths?

    If you can't enjoy a drink or whatever (even the occasional cigarette) in returement without being hounded by these neo-con health zealots then it is a poorer society. Getting a thirst on now..

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 63.

    OH FOR GOD'S SAKE. ANOTHE BLOODY RIDICULOUS STUDY BOG OFF !

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 62.

    44. ' saving the NHS MILLIONS of £s every year......'

    Tax from cigarettes alone is enough to fund the entire NHS, so it is an uninformed wish to think NHS savings can replace the tax on vices.

    Heavy drinkers do anything to get a drink, so such a tax could cause starvation to some negating any supposed savings.

    It seems like justification for another tax grab.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 61.

    Death isn't avoided, it's delayed. Do we really want to delay pensioners' deaths?

    Do you want to spend the last ten years of your life in a care home?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 60.

    Most older drinkers who deliberately get woozy are just anaesthesising themselves against a society that's sidelined them, is forcing them to sell their homes to get care, can't guarantee them safety when out walking and Authorities closing communal facilities so they see isolation on the horizon.

    Has anyone asked if these pensioners would sooner die than live in dystopia?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 59.

    So, if I am rich, lets say a politician or a banker, I can still afford to drink myself silly if I so choose. But if I have to watch my pennies I soon will be finding myself priced out of choice?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 58.

    This is about control. Nothing more nothing less. Once control was exercised by the threat of damnation to hell by a priest unless you did as you were told. Now it is damantion to liver disease by a member of the new priesthood of the NHS religion.

  • rate this
    -12

    Comment number 57.

    46.Mrs Vee - "If I want to have a drink (or three) in the privacy of my own home...I damn-well will! I don't want some wet-behind-the-ears university researcher giving spurious figures...."


    You demonstrate exactly why the Govt. needs to do something - because otherwise you & many others will slowly kill yourselves through ignorance & expect us tax payers to pay for your NHS treatment....

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 56.

    So basically this is aimed at preventing the poorer in society from being able to afford to drink for their own good since they can’t be trusted to make their own decisions? I speak as someone with a good income, who hardly drinks this wouldn’t impact me at all. But still I don’t think it’s right to take away freedom to choose from the poorer members of society.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 55.

    As long as it doesnt affect products that were already above the threshold that seems OK, but I suspect that it will.

    e.g. if the threshold was £5 with 'Brand A' currently being £4 & 'Brand B' being £6. Many customer wouldn't mind paying an extra £1 for the better brand, so supermarkets will just increase 'Brand B' as well in order to increase profits & stop sales of 'Brand A' being reduced.

  • rate this
    +21

    Comment number 54.

    The increasing propensity of the state to attempt direct manipulation of people's behaviour is a worrying trend. That it uses financial penalties to achieve its goals demonstrates a certain disdain for low income individuals who are powerless to react - unlike those with means. The state's behaviour will lead to an erosion of individual autonomy and a sterilisation of the joys of life.

 

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