Scotland's ill fated relationship with the bottle must end say leading health campaigners
Health campaigners are planning an all-out assault against alcohol marketing in a bid to end Scotland’s love affair with booze.
In a far-reaching report published by Alcohol Focus Scotland, BMA Scotland, SHAAP and Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol & Drugs , the groups set out a range of policies aimed at curbing Scotland’s alcohol problem and addressing the associated health inequalities.
Recommendations include: implementing a 50p minimum unit price as soon as possible; reducing exposure of children to alcohol advertising and sponsorship; clearer information for consumers about the health risks associated with drinking; and more investment in alcohol prevention, treatment and support services.
Scotland continues to have the highest level of alcohol consumption and harm in the UK.
One million Scots drink above the recommended guidelines, and 22 Scots die because of alcohol every single week – twice the rate of the 1980s.
However the Scottish Government has cut direct funding for alcohol and drug prevention, treatment and support services by 22%, leaving the NHS to plug the gap.
Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said: “Scotland is awash with alcohol. Widespread availability, low prices and heavy marketing are having a devastating effect, not only on drinkers but on their children and families too.
"Minimum unit pricing will hopefully be introduced next year, but further action is required to turn off the tap of alcohol harm, rather than simply treating the symptoms.
"This report provides a blueprint which, if implemented, will improve the lives of millions of Scots, make our communities better and safer places to live, and reduce demand on our over-burdened public services.”
Dr Peter Bennie, Chair of BMA Scotland said doctors see first-hand the damage that alcohol misuse does to patients and their families.
He added: “At a time when NHS resources are stretched like never before, we simply cannot afford to continue the cycle that sees major pressures unnecessarily put upon the health service as a result of alcohol.”
According to Eric Carlin, director of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP), our alcohol harm statistics remain appalling.
He said: “The health community is urging the Scottish Government to re-commit its efforts and resources over the longer term to support evidence-based policies that will save Scottish lives, even where the vested interests of multi-national companies range themselves, with no sense of shame, in opposition to this.”
Our alcohol harm statistics remain appalling - Eric Carlin .
And John Holleran, a development officer at Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol & Drugs said the report presents a prime opportunity for the Scottish Government to develop renewed actions to counter the alcohol-related harms still experienced by many families and communities across Scotland.
“It provides welcome recognition of the vital role that families play; in helping individuals towards treatment and sustainable recovery, as a force for positive change at a time when alcohol availability and marketing is so prominent within our society,” he added.