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Alcohol public health

Tackling alcohol harm is one of our top priorities in Plymouth. Excessive drinking is one of four lifestyle behaviours, along with smoking, inactivity and poor diet, that lead to 54 per cent of deaths in Plymouth. To tackle this we have launched our Thrive Plymouth initiative.

The Chief Medical Officers (CMO) guideline for both men and women states that:

  • To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis
  • If you regularly drink as much as 14 units per week, it's best to spread your drinking evenly over three or more days. If you have one or two heavy drinking episodes a week, you increase your risk of death from long-term illness and injuries
  • The risk of developing a range of health problems (including cancers of the mouth, throat and breast) increases the more you drink on a regular basis
  • If you wish to cut down the amount you drink, a good way to help achieve this is to have several drink-free days a week.

Strategic Alcohol Plan for Plymouth 2013 to 2018: Promote responsibility, minimise harm

Priorities for Plymouth's Strategic Alcohol Plan include:

  • Reduce the rate of alcohol attributable hospital admissions
  • Reduce levels of harmful drinking by adults and young people
  • Reduce alcohol related violence
  • Reduce anti-social behaviour
  • Reduce the number of children affected by parental alcohol misuse

Plymouth City Council is one of the partners for the plan, alongside Devon and Cornwall Police, NHS Northern, Eastern, and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, and Dorset, Devon and Cornwall Community Rehabilitation Company. 

Knowing your limits

The phrase 'know your limits' is often referred to but many people do not know what this means. The recommended national guidance on drinking suggests that:

  • Men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day
  • Women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units a day

'Regularly' means drinking this amount every day or most days of the week.

For more information on alcohol and drinking responsibly and safely, visit the Drinkaware website.

Reducing the strength

Reducing the strength is a scheme which aims to encourage retailers to stop selling very cheap, high percentage lagers, beers and ciders, in their shops, which should contribute towards reducing alcohol related crime and health costs in the city.

One single 500ml can of 9 per cent super strength lager contains four and a half units of alcohol - clearly exceeding the Government's daily recommended safe alcohol limit for men and women. In some shops these are being sold for £1.

The scheme is a joint initiative between Plymouth City Council, Shekinah Mission, Harbour Centre (Plymouth), Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Plymouth Herald, Safer Plymouth, Northern Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, and Devon & Cornwall Police. It forms part of Plymouth's five year Alcohol Strategy.

Strategic Programme Board for Alcohol

The Strategic Programme Board for Alcohol is made up of representatives from a range of statutory, voluntary and community organisations in Plymouth. The group aims to provide a strong collaborative approach to addressing alcohol issues in Plymouth.

The Strategic Programme Board for Alcohol is accountable to the Health and Wellbeing Board: the Programme Board will also link to Safer Plymouth, the Growth Board and the Children and Families Trust as appropriate. The meetings are held quarterly.