Raise tax on alcohol to cut liver deaths, say researchers

The changes are needed to cut liver deaths Credit: PA

Simple and cheap changes to alcohol policy at EU level could reduce mortality across Europe, according to researchers at the University of Southampton.

They say increased taxation and the introduction of a minimum unit price would lower liver related deaths.

In the World Health Organisation European Region, more than 2,370,000 years of life are lost from liver disease before the age of 50. Between 60-80% of these deaths are alcohol-related.

The link between alcohol consumption and liver mortality is clear cut, as is the evidence linking effective alcohol policy to liver mortality. Were the liver mortality in the worst member states to be brought down to the EU average 14,000 deaths could be prevented each year. Were liver mortality rates in the EU to be brought in line with the EU minimum then around 46,000 liver deaths would be prevented each year.

The case for action on alcohol related harm could not possibly be clearer. The most effective and cost effective interventions actually raise money for hard pressed governments and are more likely to increase rather than decrease productivity."

– Professor Nick Sheron, Head of Clinical Hepatology at the University of Southampton