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New inquiry into evidence base for alcohol guidelines

19 July 2011

The Department of Health provides guidance to the public on alcohol intake.

The Chief Medical Officer recommends that men should not regularly drink more than 3–4 units of alcohol a day and women should not regularly drink more than 2–3 units a day

Pregnant women or women trying to conceive are advised to avoid drinking alcohol. If they do choose to drink, they should not drink more than 1-2 units of alcohol once or twice a week.(1) Parents are advised that children should not drink any alcohol until they’re at least 15 years old.(2)

The Government’s March 2011 Public Health Responsibility Deal included a pledge to foster “a culture of responsible drinking, which will help people to drink within guidelines”.(3)  The Committee has decided to carry out an inquiry into the evidence base for alcohol guidelines provided by Government to the public.

Terms of Reference

The Committee seeks submissions on the following matters:

1. What evidence are Government’s guidelines on alcohol intake based on, and how regularly is the evidence base reviewed?
2. Could the evidence base and sources of scientific advice to Government on alcohol be improved?
3. How well does the Government communicate its guidelines and the risks of alcohol intake to the public?
4. How do the UK Government’s guidelines compare to those provided in other countries?

Submitting written evidence

The Committee invites written submissions on these issues by midday on Wednesday 14 September 2011.

Each submission should:
a) be no more than 3,000 words in length
b) be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible
c) have numbered paragraphs
d) include a declaration of interests.

A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail and marked "Alcohol guidelines". An additional paper copy should be sent to:

The Clerk
Science and Technology Committee
House of Commons
7 Millbank
London SW1P 3JA

Please note that:

  • Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.
  • Memoranda submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless publication by the person or organisation submitting it is specifically authorised.
  • Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.
  • Select Committees are unable to investigate individual cases.

View more information on submitting evidence to Select Committees.