Drinking alcohol, and associated negative impacts, has probably never had such a high profile within public and policy debates. Tabloid headlines scream outrage on a frequent basis about the ills of Britain’s ‘binge drinking’ culture. Some estimates suggest 100,000 people in the UK could die over the next decade directly because of their drinking, and that the death rate over the last 25 years has trebled to nearly 9,000 per annum. Yet drinking is big business. Some estimates suggest it is worth around £40bn every year to the economy.
This briefing paper from the Society presents an overview of research relating to the current debate, presenting evidence relating to a number of controversial questions. It sets out to separate the facts from fiction in these debates, with evidence presented against a series of controversial questions and debates, from whether the UK actually does have a ‘drinking problem’ right through to assessing the positive role that the British pub still plays in the economy, communities and people’s lives.
The briefing was based on inputs from a number of geographers, including at an Environment and Society Forum event at the Society on 10 February 2010.
Launch event at the House of Commons
The formal launch of the briefing paper took place in the House of Commons on 8 December 2010, hosted and chaired by Kevin Barron MP (Health Select Committe Chair 2005-2010). Speakers were: Dr Nicola Shelton, University College London; Professor Marion Roberts, University of Westminster; Professor Gill Valentine, University of Leeds; and Dr Mark Jayne, University of Manchester/