DESPITE having the highest proportion of non-drinkers in the North West, Blackburn with Darwen has one of the worst records for alcohol-related disease.

The stark facts were presented to the borough’s executive board as it toughened its strategy to combat the booze menace.

Public health director Dominic Harrison told senior councillors: “Alcohol-related harm is a major issue. Misuse of alcohol affects us all – individuals, families and community – impacting upon those in the disadvantaged areas the most.

“Public Health England identifies Blackburn with Darwen as having the highest proportion of non- drinkers in the North West at 22per cent, comp-ared with a regional average of 15per cent.

“Of particular concern is, despite the highest percentage of non-drinkers in the North West, and below national average consumption rates, the harm caused by alcohol is significantly high.


“Blackburn with Darwen is ranked 30th worst out of 211 Clinical Comm-issioning Groups for all liver disease mortality in under-75s.

“Hospital admissions due to alcohol-related disease have risen over a 10-year period by 200per cent, over twice the rate of increase in the North West.”

New measures addressing growing alcohol consumption by ethnic min- ority young people; drinking among offenders, the homeless and carers; and encouraging abstention and helping moderate drinkers to avoid increas-ing consumption to danger levels were added to the existing strategy.

It includes promoting responsible retailing; better information; improved recovery and rehabilit-ation services; and lobbying for a Minimum Unit Price of 50p Council health spokesman Brian Taylor said: “We are taking a firm lead on tackling this. Measures include a hospital service that identifies people with alcohol dependence at risk of liver, or other alcohol-related disease and works to get them the help they need. We are doing more interventions with people who consume high levels, and whose alcohol intake may be increasing.”