They mean increasing, of course. They were probably drunk by this stage. So, has alcohol consumption been increasing in the UK while it's been decreasing in much of Europe?
In 2010, per capita alcohol consumption was 7.4 litres in the UK.
In 2006, it was 8.4 litres.
In 2000, it was 7.6 litres.
In 1990, it was also 7.6 litres.
In 1980, it was very slightly lower, at 7.3 litres (BBPA Statistical Handbook 2012; p. 100).
The modern peak in alcohol consumption arrived about ten years and the subsequent decline has not gone unnoticed in such BBC news stories as 'Alcohol consumption falls again' and 'Why is alcohol consumption falling?' From the former comes the graph below which shows that—despite a change in methodology—alcohol consumption is falling, not 'uncreasing' (sic). Indeed, it is falling at a faster rate than at any time since WWII.
And here's a little visual stimulation about the 16 to 24 age group courtesy of the Sunday Times:
And, for good measure, here are the stats for school pupils:
How does this compare with our continental cousins? The graph below shows that the UK has the fifth lowest per capita consumption in the EU. The EU average is 8.6 litres while Britain—shown on the far right of the graph—drinks a measly 7.4 litres. As ever, click to enlarge.
To be (very) generous to the temperance lobby, perhaps they are referring to long-term trends over several decades. It is true that there has been a rise in alcohol consumption since 1970 (from 5.3 litres to 7.4 litres). Nearly all of this rise occurred in the 1970s. How does this compare to the rest of Europe, much of which is seeing 'declining consumption', according to Alcohol Concern?
Of the 17 EU countries which have data going back to 1970, nine have seen alcohol consumption rise and eight have seen it decline. The biggest declines have been seen in France, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Italy, all of which had per capita consumption figures in the teens in the '70s and '80s. The UK hasn't had such high alcohol consumption for at least a century and, of those five countries, all except Italy continue to consume more alcohol than the UK.
In recent years (since 2006), it is certainly true that many European countries have seen a decline in alcohol consumption. Only four EU states have seen a rise, but the UK is not one of them. On the contrary, it has seen one of the sharpest declines.
The facts are plain to see for those look at the data. There are three key points...
- Across any measure, alcohol consumption has been falling in Britain for a decade.
- Most European countries have been drinking more than us for many, many years and continue to do so.
- Alcohol Concern are miserable liars.
This woman's pants may well be on fire:
Per capita consumption of alcohol has increased. The UK is now in top 5! Is this a league we want to be top if? #TackleAlcoholHarms
— Kay Gee (@kirstygail) November 21, 2013