More than half of consumers oppose the Department of Health’s latest hardline approach to alcohol consumption guidelines, according to a new survey commissioned by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra).
Of more than 2,000 people surveyed by the YouGov poll, 51% disagreed with the Chief Medical Officers’ decision that alcohol guidelines should be the same for men and women.
Publishing the figures at the start of the Great British Beer Festival, Camra called for the DH to launch a new public consultation into whether the alcohol guidelines were fit for purpose and evidence-based.
“The figures we’re releasing today show that government advice on drinking is at odds with common sense,” said Camra chairman Colin Valentine. “If the government wants people to take the guidance seriously then it needs to present people with realistic and believable advice, which they can use to judge their own risk when it comes to responsible drinking. If the public feels, as our figures suggest, that the guidelines are not credible and lack evidence, the danger is they will increasingly just ignore them.”
Under the new guidelines, introduced in January, the advice on the limit of alcohol men should drink has been slashed by a third, to a maximum of 14 units a week, bringing them into line with women.
Valentine added: “There are decades of international scientific evidence showing that moderate drinking can play an important part in a healthy and happy lifestyle. We’d like to see that research reflected in a more grown-up approach to help adults understand the risks and benefits associated with drinking.”
The Portman Group held talks in June to try to get the CMOs to think again.
“We met with the Chief Medical Officer to discuss our concerns about possible contradictions in the communication of the new guidelines, and the potential negative impact on public trust in health advice if people find advice confusing,” said a spokesman.
“We had a constructive discussion about the need to present risk in context with other day-to-day activities, and to reassure the many millions of low-risk drinkers that their moderate alcohol consumption is compatible with a responsible, healthy lifestyle.”