Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer has published his Annual Report 2009 this week. In the report the CMO highlights the key areas of public health requiring action and looks at progress made since previous annual reports. One issue that he reflects on is the damage caused by “passive” drinking and the recommendation he made for a minimum price for alcohol in his last Annual Report.
FPH President Professor Alan Maryon-Davis commented:
We’re strongly behind Sir Liam on this issue. The government should never have bottled out with minimum pricing. It makes total sense to ban ultra-cheap booze. We call on this government and future ones to reconsider all the evidence that is available.
In fact, the CMO’s Report refers to FPH’s public health manifesto calling for minimum pricing earlier this year:
The Alcohol Health Alliance UK brings together the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Surgeons, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Faculty of Public Health and 20 other such organisations. To see such a group of medical bodies speaking together with one voice is very powerful. They speak in particular of the passive harms of drinking. They, too, call for a minimum price per unit.
Other professionals have echoed this call. The Faculty of Public Health represents 3,000 public health specialists from the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The Royal Society for Public Health has 6,000 members from health-related professions. In January 2010, these two institutions joined forces to publish a public health manifesto. It listed 12 actions that government could, and should, take to tackle a range of public health concerns. The first action on the list was a minimum price per unit of alcohol. (p.16)
The major challenges the Annual Report discusses this year include climate change and health, the benefits of physical activity on health and risk of cold weather on health.
FPH has produced a booklet about climate change and health called Sustaining A Healthy Future – A Special Focus on the NHS .
There is plenty of evidence about alcohol minimum pricing being the best public health intervention to problem drinking, for instance an independent review by the School of Health and Related Research at Sheffield University.