Norfolk coroner’s concerns over cheap alcohol

Norfolk's coroner has raised concerns about the dangers of the widespread availability of cheap alcohol following an increase in the numbers of people drinking themselves to death.

William Armstrong has urged people to opt for sensible, social drinking at their local pub, where drinking levels can be monitored, as opposed to drinking excessive amounts of cheap alcohol bought from shops. Mr Armstrong, the Greater Norfolk coroner, said: 'There are deaths, of course, which arise from medical conditions caused by long-time alcohol addiction; deaths where people have accidents as a result of drinking too much alcohol. But there's also, from my perspective, an increase in the number of deaths from acute alcohol poisoning where people have consumed massive amounts in one session and died from alcohol poisoning.

'I think there's no doubt that there is research which shows there's a link between deaths involving excessive drinking and readily available very cheap alcohol and I think we need to encourage more people to drink sociably and sensibly in pubs instead of going out and purchasing cheap alcohol from supermarkets.'

A spokesman for the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said supermarkets were responsible sellers of alcohol. He said: 'There's no evidence to link the way alcohol is sold currently to problem drinking. The vast majority of supermarket customers buy alcohol as part of their weekly food shop and enjoy it responsibly at home.

'Solving problems caused by alcohol depends on a change in culture. It's too simplistic to suggest that price is the over-riding issue.'

Mr Armstrong has also hailed Norwich's pioneering SOS Bus as a 'vital service' a decade after it was established as a safe haven for drunk and vulnerable people. Since it was set up in April 2001, following the river deaths of Nick Green, 16, and James Toms, following nights out in the city, it has helped a total of almost 6,500 people.

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