Thursday, 9 July 2009

Pickled Numbers

From The Times:-

The number of people dying from alcohol-related causes rose by nearly 40 per cent from 5,287 in 1999 to 7,341 last year, figures obtained by the Conservative MP James Brokenshire, a shadow Home Office minister, show.


The Conservatives blamed the increase on the relaxation of drinking laws in November 2005.

The facts don't reflect this. The figure for 2004 (before 24 hour drinking was introduced) was 6,544 deaths, so the majority of the rise in alcohol-related deaths happened in the first 5 years of the study period, not after.

Or to put it another way, post 2004, the rate of increase in alcohol deaths in the UK has actually declined. I don't have the annual statistics for England and Wales, but looking at the UK deaths, the rise from 2005 to 2007 (you can't really include 2005 as it was introduced in November) were almost insignificant. Total alcohol-related deaths rose from 8386 in 2005 to 8754 in 2006, a rise of less than 5%.

To take this further, we can look at deaths amongst those aged 15-34, the group most likely to be late-night drinking. For men, there were an extra 11 deaths from 2005 to 2007. For women, an extra 18 deaths in that period. Yet for the 35-50 age group, there were an extra 86 deaths for men and an 51 deaths for women. This simply shows that there is no causual link between late night opening and deaths.

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