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Alcohol kills 15 Australians per day: report

Xinhua, July 31, 2014 Adjust font size:

Alcohol causes 15 deaths and hospitalizes 430 Australians every day with the numbers rapidly increasing over the past decade, a new report released on Thursday revealed.

VicHealth and Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education ( FARE) funded the report, which was conducted by Turning Point, and it found 5,554 deaths and 157,132 hospitalizations were caused by alcohol in 2010.

The report said the number of deaths had increased by 62 percent since the study was last undertaken a decade ago.

Dr. Belinda Lloyd, head of population health research at Turning Point, said the research was a timely reminder of the dangers of alcohol.

"The reality is that the long term effects aren't just confined to one Saturday night, with serious health problems a genuine concern," Lloyd said in a statement.

"It is clear that there are both short-term and long-term harms associated with risky consumption, and we are seeing increasing death, disability, health service burden and social impacts of alcohol across Australia."

FARE Chief Executive Michael Thorn said Australian governments can no longer ignore the urgent need for decisive and effective action to reduce the rising toll.

"A decade ago alcohol was responsible for 3,430 deaths per year. Now that figure stands at 5,554. Governments can't afford to wait another 10 years to act. Only decisive, evidence-based action will stem Australia's worsening alcohol toll," Thorn said.

Thorn said population-wide measures that address the price, promotion and availability of alcohol would not only save lives but also deliver significant financial savings to cash-strapped governments.

"Alcohol tax reforms, the introduction of earlier closing times and sensible restrictions on alcohol advertising and promotions will not just save lives and reduce the unacceptable level of alcohol harms, it will also reduce the 36 billion AU dollars (33.5 billion U.S. dollars) burden those harms represent, a burden carried by the entire Australian community."

VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter added that this important study highlights the dangers of alcohol and a need to approach Australia' s drinking problem from all angles.

"We live in a society where getting drunk at many social and sporting events is seen as a normal activity. It's no wonder the harm is increasing," Rechter said.

"VicHealth believes our culture of heavy drinking needs to be challenged. We want to work towards a society where excessive drinking isn't seen as acceptable or normal activity."

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