People in Blackpool end up in hospital because of booze more than anywhere else in the country.
The resort has long topped national leagues of shame, and health bosses here have spent years in a constant battle against the bottle.
But the booze crisis rattles on – and the situation is perhaps made worse by the fact supermarkets are now routinely selling super-strength alcohol for super cheap.
The Gazette visited six supermarkets recently, and found Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Morrisons all had booze on their shelves for less than the price of a bottle – or can – of water.
Morrisons was selling a 500ml ‘CanO Water’ for £1. For the same price, shoppers could get a bigger bottle of own-brand cider, or a 500ml bottle of Bulmers.
Four 440ml cans of Morrisons Export Lager – at 4.8 per cent ABV – for £3, or 75p per can.
Blackpool’s director of public health, Dr Arif Rajpura, has led the council’s fight back against the demon drink, and has campaigned against cheap booze being made readily available.
He said supermarkets were not helping to tackle an issue that has blighted the town and many of its residents.
He said: “Although Blackpool does currently experience higher rates of alcohol-related hospital admissions compared to the England average, we have seen a gradual reduction in alcohol-related hospital admissions from 1,229 per 100,000 in 2013/14 down to 1097 per 100,000 in 17/18.
“There have been a wide range of actions by partners across Blackpool over this period to drive down alcohol-related harm, and we do recognise that we need to continue the good work of partners across the town to continue this downward trend.
“To address the alcohol-related hospital admissions, it is important that a number of evidence based strategies are employed in terms of effective prevention, health improvement interventions for those at risk, treatment and recovery services for dependent drinkers, and action to reduce binge drinking and the harms associated with it.
“The Blackpool Alcohol Strategy addresses all of these approaches, but whilst the availability of cheap alcohol in supermarkets and off-licences remains across Blackpool alcohol will continue to cause harm.”
Alcohol is linked to several serious illnesses, including liver and kidney disease, multiple cancers, mental health issues, stroke, and high blood pressure.
The council’s strategy, which outlines the severity of the resort’s problem, says: “There can be no doubt that tackling alcohol-related harm is currently a priority both nationally and locally.
“Alcohol misuse in the North West... is the worst in the UK, and Blackpool has high levels of alcohol-related harm – health, disorder, violence – for the size of the population.”
Men living in Blackpool generally die around 13 years earlier than the national average, while women die an average of eight years earlier.
The strategy adds: “One of the main causes of shorter life expectancy in Blackpool is alcohol-related diseases.”
None of the supermarkets responded to requests for a comment.