‘It’s everywhere’ – alcohol’s public face and private harm The report of the Commission on Alcohol Harm

Alcohol is celebrated throughout our society and culture. Yet the harm caused by alcohol – physical, mental, economic, and social – is everywhere, hidden in plain sight and often endured privately.

Alcohol harm impacts us all – in families, our communities, and throughout society. For too long, the onus has been on individuals, with drinkers urged to “drink responsibly”.

We need to finally acknowledge the true scale of the harm caused by alcohol, which goes far beyond individuals who drink, and put the responsibility squarely with the harmful product itself. By doing so we will help to do away with the stigma and shame that surrounds those who are harmed by alcohol and often stops them from accessing the help that they need.

This is not a party-political issue. Governments of both left and right have allowed alcohol harm to rise unabated. The last Labour government brought in 24-hour licensing and froze spirits duty for ten years.

The 2010 coalition government planned to introduce minimum unit pricing in England and Wales before dropping the policy and going on to cut duty, causing consumption, and harm, to increase.

A healthy economy is driven by a healthy population. To be effective, a recovery strategy must include policies to help put an end to alcohol harm. Missing this opportunity would mean we will see the toll of increased alcohol harm for a generation.

Like COVID-19, alcohol harm hits the poorest hardest and exacerbates existing health inequalities. Levelling up is a stated priority for the government and we are already seeing bold action on reducing obesity. To improve the nation’s health we need the same commitment to tackling all causes of preventable ill health, including alcohol.

Baroness Finlay


download the full report here Its-Everywhere-Commission-on-Alcohol-Harm-final-report (1)

Published 12th October 2020

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