By Amy Looker, editor National Liquor News

A new Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) report claiming alcohol-related deaths are on the rise presents a stark contrast to a government report released a fortnight ago.

The results of the Federal Government’s Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey were released on July 17 and revealed that overall drinking levels between 2010 and 2013 are down.

However, the report released by FARE shows that 5554 deaths and 157,132 hospitalisations were caused by alcohol in 2010, with the number of deaths increasing by 62 per cent since the study was last undertaken 10 years ago. 

In comparison, the AIHW survey shows that daily drinking declined from 7.2 per cent down to 6.5 per cent between 2010 and 2013 and was at the lowest level seen since 1991, while there was a significant increase in the proportion of people who had never consumed a full serve of alcohol, from 12.1 per cent to 13.8 per cent.

Deliberately alarmist

The report by FARE, which was released in conjunction with the Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre and Vic Health, has been dismissed by the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) as being unbalanced, lacking in credibility and deliberately alarmist.

“The conclusions that somehow the drinking issue in Australia is at crisis level and getting worse just doesn't stack up against other far more credible or compelling research. We are actually making progress now, with the latest trend data showing fewer people are drinking at risk levels,” said WFA chief executive Paul Evans.

“Is there hard work to be done? Absolutely. Is there more things that we can do to reduce alcohol-related harm? Absolutely. Is one alcohol-related death or injury too many? Absolutely. But to try and twist and shape the public policy discussion on alcohol and how it’s regulated by the type of report FARE has put out, aimed at grabbing sensationalist headlines as we've had to date, just does a great disservice to the actual issue that's at the heart of all of this.”

The National Drug Strategy Household Survey is conducted every two to three years, with survey data collected from nearly 24,000 people across Australia from 31 July to 1 December 2013.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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