Alcohol consumption keeps declining: Portman Group

Alcohol consumption continues to decline – in a trend that has been continuing since the early to mid-2000s, according to the Portman Group’s first annual report.

The body has published the report as part of a drive to open up alcohol regulation to greater public scrutiny, and its aim is to show how the industry regulates its marketing and the measures it takes to help reduce alcohol misuse. 

It also shows trends in alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm to show alcohol and its role in society in context.

The report found that consumption per adult head of population is 10.2 litres – 11% lower than the 2004 peak of 11.5 litres. 

The average number of units consumed per week by those who drink is continuing to fall from 18.7 for men and nine for women in 2006, to 16.3 and eight respectively in 2009 – well within the government’s guidelines.

The proportion of men and women drinking hazardously – more than 50 or 35 units per week respectively – peaked in 2000 and has been declining since 2002. 

The proportion of pupils who had drunk alcohol in the past week was 13% – its lowest level since records began in 1998.

Henry Ashworth, the new chief executive of the Portman Group, said: “Today’s report highlights our commitment to increase transparency around how we regulate alcohol marketing. We should be proud that the UK’s alcohol marketing regulations are already recognised as a model of good practice by other European countries and industries. They can become more effective if more consumers know how to complain about products and promotions they find irresponsible. 

“As well as publishing this report, we have launched a three-month public consultation to review our code of practice. We want people to help us maintain the right balance between protecting children and removing irresponsible products from the market while still allowing responsible companies to communicate with adult consumers when they choose what to drink.

“Government statistics are clear that the vast majority of adults in the UK enjoy alcohol and the vast majority do drink within the Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines, but we recognise that alcohol can be harmful when it is misused. 

“Industry is determined to support government and consumers by marketing its products responsibly. By working together we can reduce the harm caused by alcohol misuse.”

The report is available on the Portman Group’s website, 

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