Dying for a drink? Health experts warn alcohol could be the next big public health emergency

Publication Date: 6th May 2014

Subject: Public health

Alcohol and the way we use it could be the next big public health emergency, according to experts meeting at the conference of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, Wales, in Cardiff on 8 May.

Professor Mark Bellis, from Public Health Wales and Huw Williams from Ceredigion County Council, will be asking if Wales needs a new relationship with alcohol at the “Public Health: Underpinning Wellbeing” conference.

Professor Bellis will unpick the various myths, misunderstandings and disingenuous advertising around alcohol and the way in which these are acted on by users in the belief that they are acting safely. It is clear, following on from the recently published figures regarding males death from alcohol related conditions and rates of female binge drinking in Wales that Wales does not have a good relationship with alcohol. Professor Bellis will show how false beliefs around use of alcohol arise and pose the question – how do we as a society address this?

Ceredigion Council has taken brave and innovative steps to deal with the stain that poor use of alcohol can leave on an area, through nuisance, anti-social behaviour, criminal damage and personal accidents and injuries, winning a Purple Flag Award for the scheme running in Aberystwyth. Such schemes cost money and in cash strapped times divert resources. Can we afford to get involved in them? Given the problems that alcohol causes in areas of Wales, can we afford not to?

Speaking ahead of the conference, Julie Barratt, Director of CIEH Wales, said: “Alcohol is most people’s socially acceptable drug of choice, but it is clear that the way we are using it in Wales is bad for individuals, families, employers and for society as a whole. We need to do something to redress the balance. The question is what should we do and is there an appetite to do anything but talk about it? These are hard questions for hard times but we can’t afford to duck the issue. We need a new relationship with alcohol, and we need it soon.”

The conference, now in its eighth year, will feature top class international speakers and will be a major debate about how public health should best be delivered. There are many facets to wellbeing and there are many ways in which public health initiatives underpin it.

Notes to editors: 

  • For media enquiries please contact Brian Cowan on 020 7827 5922 or 07721 456727 or email b.cowan@cieh.org 
  • Julie Barratt is available for interview

About the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health: 

  • The CIEH is the professional voice for environmental health representing over 10,000 members working in the public, private and non-profit sectors. It ensures the highest standards of professional competence in its members, in the belief that through environmental health action people's health can be improved
  • The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) is a leading provider of regulated qualifications in health and safety, food safety, environmental management, fire safety and first aid and operates in over 50 countries
  • Over 10 million people around the world from the UK to the USA and the Middle East hold a CIEH qualification
  • The CIEH’s clients range from small businesses to multinational enterprises like the InterContinental Hotels Group. We work with governmental bodies in Hong Kong as well as international agencies like the United Nations
  • The CIEH’s 60 qualification training programmes are delivered through a network of over 10,000 registered trainers. The training is developed for the varied skill levels within organisations. They cater to different learning styles and preferences through a series of flexible structures. CIEH qualifications are valued and recognised throughout the world
  • 15Hatfields is the organisation’s sustainable venue www.15hatfields.com 
  • For more information about the CIEH visit www.cieh.org


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