Warning follows David Cameron’s vow to tackle “scandal” of alcohol abuse

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Health chiefs in Kent and Medway have issued fresh warnings over the dangers of regular drinking after David Cameron vowed to tackle the “scandal” of alcohol abuse.

The most recent figures for the county showed nine people died every week in one year as a result of booze.

Tens of thousands of people in Kent and Medway also attend hospital every year with alcohol-linked issues.

But medical experts have warned that people should not dismiss such problems as something that only happens to alcoholics and binge drinkers.

Jessica Mookherjee, assistant director of public health for NHS Kent and Medway, said: “It’s certainly not only people who get drunk or binge drink that are at risk.

“Most people who have alcohol-related health problems aren’t alcoholics. They’re simply people who have regularly drunk more than the recommended levels for some years.

“In recent years, the alcoholic content of many wines and beers has become stronger, while pubs, clubs and bars routinely use larger glasses, so many people are drinking more than the recommended levels without even realising it.”

Problems caused by cheap alcohol and drinks promotions in pubs and supermarkets are at the heart of the upcoming reform.

A strategy is due to be published shortly, with a ban on selling alcohol below cost price to be introduced from April 6.

Ms Mookherjee said while alcohol was part of this country’s culture, it could be consumed safely and sensibly.

But she said alcohol content had increased in some wines and beers causing regular drinkers health issues such as liver problems, reduced fertility, high blood pressure, increased risk of cancer and heart attacks.

“It is important that everyone has at least two alcohol free days a week and that men do not regularly drink more than three to four units a day - about a pint and a half of beer - or women more than two to three units a day- one medium glass of wine.”

Prime Minister David Cameron has called for the drinks industry to do more to help ensure responsible drinking.

Health problems associated with booze costs the NHS billions of pounds nationally each year.

In Kent there are thousands of admissions annually linked to alcohol consumption, from falls and assaults to mental health and behavioural disorders.

In a 2010 Local Alcohol profile for the area, shocking figures showed there were 26,334 booze-related admissions, a figure that had risen year on year since 2004 in the county.

MP for Canterbury Julian Brazier has thrown his weight behind the government’s alcohol proposals.

He also suggested additional points he wanted included in any review of the plans.

“We need to restore the concept of a “fit and proper person” to hold a licence,” he said.

“Nobody has a right to run a pub or club, and the law-abiding majority do not want to see people against whom reasonable suspicion exists of serious alcohol-related offences, operating in the trade. “

He also stated that people that could be affected by a new licensed premises, through problems such as noise and unacceptable behaviour, should be consulted in the licence application process.

“In Canterbury, we have a problem of this kind in the Dane John Gardens. The gardens are used as an access route via a footbridge to one of Canterbury’s main night clubs, Club Chemistry, and the residents struggle with noise, unacceptable behaviour, vandalism and damage,” he said.

“They would not have been able to make any representations against the club being given a licence, but are the main sufferers at night when the club closes. “

He also asked that bureaucracy to churches and small clubs and other bodies who want one-off arrangements for fundraising functions be reduced.



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