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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

According to Reuters UK, two separate medical groups in London are calling for higher taxes to be placed on alcohol. This would presumably be to decrease the number of alcohol related health issues.

Here's another take on it from the BBC, leading off with the children.

An interesting statistic from the first article - alcohol-related deaths doubled to over 8,386 in 2005 from 4,144 in 1991. They don't, however, say how many Brits there were in 1991 and 2005. Just for fun, I tried to look this up.

According to A site which I've never heard of the population in 1991 was 57,808,000 and in 2005 it was 60,210,000.

So... let's solve for X, shall we?

1991 -- 4,144 deaths per 57,808,000 = x per 100,000 people. x ~ 7.16 deaths per 100,000

2005 -- 8,386 deaths per 60,210,000 = x per 100,000 people. x ~ 13.93 deaths per 100,000 people.

It isn't much comfort if one of your loved ones is part of those who have died as a result of alcohol, but lets not get swept up into calling this an epidemic. I don't ever advocate people drinking to excess or at the cost of their health, but I wonder how bad this problem really is in the U.K., or if this might just be a scare-tactic statistic.

I just googled to see how close I was on the real statistics and it is actually lower than my back of the napkin computation. It looks like the death rate went from 6.9 per 100,000 to 12.9 per 100,000 from 1991 to 2005.


Here is the fascinating thing, though. Look at this graph:



The rate of deaths for people in the 15-34 range has climbed - but the dramatic shifts are in the 35-54 brackets and 55-74 brackets.

Most likely, this is due to higher lifetime rates of drinking for people in Gen X and the Baby Boomers, or it is due to a higher incidence of deaths for this group being attributed to drink.

I would like to see what is being reported as alcohol-related to see if there is a decline in other categories that might correlate - areas that were previously called something else, or to see if the definition has changed over time.

This smells of an agenda. This whole thing is purported to be for the children - but it doesn't appear that they are the ones with a problem.

PS> I wasn't aware that children were legally buying alcohol in the U.K. I would assume they are stealing it since no one should be selling it to them, unless I misunderstand their laws. How does raising the tax rate affect a shoplifted bottle of booze, or one lifted from their parents?

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