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Welsh doctors call for higher taxes to curb binge drinking

Published:  23 July, 2008

UK: British Medical Association (BMA) Cymru Wales is calling on Westminster and the Welsh Assembly Government to raise alcohol taxes - penalising drinks with the highest amount of alcohol.

BMA said a recent survey into the population's health found that 40% of adults' average alcohol consumption a day was above the recommended guidelines of no more than four units a day for men and no more than three units per day for women.

This varied by region, with the highest rates in Merthyr Tydfil and the lowest in Ceredigion.

19% of adults reported binge drinking (more than eight units in a day for men and more than six units for women) in the week previous to the Welsh Health Survey.

Data from the Health Behaviour in School Aged Children (HBSC) survey also showed that 7% of 11-year-old girls and 12% of 11-year-old boys in Wales reported drinking any alcohol on a weekly basis.

For 13-year olds nearly a quarter of girls and a third of boys in Wales reported drinking any alcoholic drink weekly.

Of all the countries participating in the HBSC survey, Wales has the highest proportion of 15-year-olds that reported drinking on a weekly basis (over 50% of girls and almost 60% of boys).

The number of people admitted to hospital for alcohol-related conditions has increased from 252 per 100,000 in 1999 to 309 per 100,000 in 2005.

The admission rates are significantly higher than the average rate for Wales in Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire, Gwynedd, Newport, Wrexham, Swansea, Ynys Mon, Denbighshire, Conwy and Blaenau Gwent.

The all-Wales alcohol-related deaths (European age standardised mortality rate) has increased from 10 per 100,000 in 1996 - 1998 to 14 per 100,000 in 2002 - 2004.