The document From evidence into action: opportunities to protect and improve the nation’s health, sets out the health agency’s priorities for the next five years.
One of the seven stated priorities is ‘reducing harmful drinking’, measured by a reduction in the number of hospital admissions due to alcohol.
PHE claims that nine million adults drink at levels that ‘increase the risk of harm’, with liver disease on the rise and cites that the cost to society of alcohol harm runs to £21bn a year – a figure that has been criticised by trade figures as misleading.
Over the next 18 months, PHE says it will continue to set out the evidence base for the introduction of a minimum unit price for alcohol. The Government shelved plans for minimum pricing last year, instead opting to introduce a ban on selling alcohol below the cost of duty plus VAT.
The paper also says it will consider the evidence for the inclusion of health as a licensing objective, alongside producing a new report for ministers on the wider public health impacts of alcohol.
Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, said: “We have an ambition: for people of this country to live as well as possible, for as long as possible. But on current trends, we are going to fall short because we face an epidemic of largely preventable long-term diseases.
“We may be living longer, but we – and future generations – risk spending many of these extra years in poor health unless we do a better job of tackling major risks such as obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption.”