Tony Blair’s former communications chief Alastair Campbell has been accused of encouraging a “manufactured moral panic” over Britain’s alcohol use over claims in his BBC documentary screened last night. The show, Britain’s Hidden Alcoholics on Panorama, argued that excessive drinking is a big problem among Britain’s middle classes and needs to be dealt with. He also questioned the logic of relaxing the licensing laws in 2005. There are concerns that the programme will add to the call for tougher action on the industry in the Government’s forthcoming Alcohol Strategy, which is due in a few weeks. Paul Chase, director and head of UK Compliance at CPL Training, said: “Campbell’s thesis is that there’s a hidden epidemic of alcoholism afflicting Britain’s middle classes, which requires us all to reassess our relationship with alcohol. “No attempt was made to define ‘alcoholism’ of course, apart from a brief reference to people who are exceeding recommended daily limits, and so this was a straightforward attempt to pathologise normal social drinking. He neglected to mention that the number of people exceeding these limits is falling!” “Campbell told viewers that a million people are admitted to hospital each year for alcohol-related conditions at a cost of £2.7 million to the NHS. But only last week the Department of Health said these numbers were toast! “The Government now counts only those admitted to hospital where the diagnosis that led to admission was for an alcohol-related cause. On this basis the number admitted tumbles to 194,800 – and the total cost to approximately £1.2m – or 1% of the total NHS budget. “A total of 25m people in England drink alcohol every week, so just 0.7% of them end up in hospital. That figure falls to 0.3% if you only count those that are admitted for reasons wholly attributable to alcohol – some 68,400 a year. “I would urge Alastair to get his facts straight and end the manufactured moral panic. Britain’s Hidden Alcoholics rehearsed all the hoary old myths of Medical Temperance.” However, the documentary highlighted home drinking, rather than consumption in pubs and bars, as the most significant cause of alcohol addiction. Campbell argued that problems with alcohol have increased as pub numbers decline.