This guest post by John Holmes orginally appeared on his personal blog, APE: Alcohol Policy and Epidemiology and has been reproduced with his permission. The piece represents his views only and not those of the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.
In April, a BMJ analysis piece by Nick Sheron and Ian Gilmore argued that the recent downward trend in alcohol-related deaths in England and Wales was most likely caused by economic factors. In particular, it pointed to the global recession and the alcohol duty escalator which, between 2008 and 2013, raised alcohol taxes by 2% above inflation each year. Sheron and Gilmore’s main concern was that the combination of subsequent duty cuts and the UK’s economic recovery mean “the relentless rise [in alcohol-related deaths which preceded the downturn] is likely to resume as incomes outstrip rises in taxation”.