Dr Carolyn Harper, Director of Public Health, PHA, said: “The Six Nations championship is an exciting event that everyone can enjoy, but there are real health risks for those who get caught up in excessive drinking through heavy discounting and special offers on alcohol. Therefore, the PHA reminds rugby fans that setting a limit on drinking is important.
“Alcohol is Northern Ireland’s favourite drug and the evidence shows that reducing the availability of alcohol is one of the most effective means of reducing alcohol related harm. For this reason, the PHA welcomes the forthcoming Northern Ireland Assembly consultation on measures to restrict access to alcohol, such as minimum pricing.”
Taking personal responsibility for one’s drinking is important and the PHA would like to remind rugby fans that binge-drinking can have lasting effects on their health, such as damage to the liver, heart, brain and the stomach.
The message is clear, if you decide to drink during this year’s Six Nations, remember to enjoy alcohol sensibly. People should follow the recommended daily alcohol limits and these simple tips:
• alternate each alcoholic drink with a non-alcoholic drink, for example water or a soft drink;
• take frequent five minute breaks from drinking to give your body time to recover;
• have something to eat before you start drinking to slow down the absorption of alcohol;
• avoid drinking in rounds or having a kitty as this may make you drink more;
• keep track of your drinks and don’t let anyone top up your drink until it’s finished.
For further information on sensible drinking and alcohol units visit the Public Health Agency’s website www.knowyourlimits.info
Notes to the editor
1. The Public Health Agency takes the lead on the DHSSPS New Strategic Direction for Alcohol and Drugs 2006–2011.
2. A consultation on banning irresponsible alcohol promotions is currently underway. It is envisaged, subject to the outcome of the consultation, that a range of alcohol promotions will be deemed ‘irresponsible’.
3. Daily alcohol limits are recommended by government in order to avoid the health and social risks of excessive and binge drinking in any one session. These recommended limits are:
• Men: It is recommended that men drink no more than three to four units of alcohol a day (ie two pints of standard beer) and no more than 21 units over the course of the week.
• Women: It is recommended that women drink no more than two to three units of alcohol a day (ie a 175ml glass of wine) and no more than 14 units over the course of the week.
• Remember, that for each unit you drink over the daily limit, the risk to your health increases. It’s important to spread the units throughout the week – you shouldn’t ‘save up’ your units for the weekend or a special occasion.
• Pregnant women or women trying to conceive should avoid drinking alcohol. If they do choose to drink, to minimise the risk to the baby they should not drink more than one to two units of alcohol once or twice a week and should not get drunk.
• Alcohol is usually measured in units. Many bottles of wine, beer and ready-mixed drinks have the units marked on the label.
Contact the PHA Press Office on 028 9031 1611.