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04/06/15 15:10

Alcohol debate must continue

Progress has been made, but further action is needed on alcohol misuse.

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt has paid tribute to the progress made in tackling alcohol misuse in Scotland – but recognised that sustained action is needed to keep moving in the right direction.

Ms Watt hosted a debate at Holyrood today, during which new measures were set out to address the country’s relationship with alcohol.

Among them, funding for Alcohol Focus Scotland to create an additional post to help realise the potential of the alcohol licensing system to control alcohol availability.

The Scottish Government is doubling the capacity to deliver Alcohol Brief Interventions (ABIs) in wider settings, from 10 per cent to a 20 per cent quota. NHS Boards and their partners have delivered over 470,000 interventions since April 2008 to help people cut down on their drinking, potentially reducing the requirement for more costly alcohol related treatments later on. In 2013-14 104,356 alcohol brief interventions were carried out in Scotland, exceeding the target by 71 per cent.

An ambitious new social marketing campaign was also announced, which will aim to prompt awareness among parents of the impact their drinking can have on children, and the importance of recognising they are role models whom young people may emulate. Working with a variety of stakeholders, the nationwide campaign will span various channels and platforms as it seeks to change adults’ behaviour.

Ms Watt said:

"Scotland’s relationship with alcohol is deeply concerning. While alcohol-related deaths have fallen by 35 per cent since 2008, they remain 1.4 times higher than they were in 1981. The most recent data, for 2013, shows an increase.

“However I am confident that with cross-party consensus we can continue to build on the progress made since our strategy was launched in 2009.

“Our Alcohol Framework has over 40 measures which seek to reduce consumption, support families and communities, change attitudes towards alcohol and improve treatment and support services. Today’s debate has highlighted just a handful of those.

“Evaluation shows that the action we’ve taken is having an impact on Scotland’s relationship with alcohol and it’s now time to look at the next steps we take to further that progress. This debate starts the conversation on the next phase of our alcohol strategy. All contributions from stakeholders and the public are welcome, we will carefully consider all those views and hold a consultation in the future.

“In October, Scotland is hosting the Global Alcohol Policy Conference. We look forward to sharing our experiences with advocates from around the world and learning from their experiences.

“Scotland has an excellent reputation for taking decisive and bold action to reduce the harm caused by excessive alcohol consumption, and is testament to our ambitious strategies that the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance have chosen to host this year’s event in Edinburgh.”

Notes to editors

  • Alcohol-related hospital admissions have quadrupled since the early 1980s.
  • Alcohol-related death rates are 1.4 times higher than in the early 1980s.
  • On average there are around 700 hospital admissions and 20 deaths a week due to alcohol misuse.
  • Scotland’s overall death rate from liver cirrhosis in 2010 was around 40% higher than the EU average.
  • Scots drink almost a fifth more than their counterparts in England and Wales, fuelling the much higher levels of alcohol-related harm, with almost 80% of this difference accounted for by spirits. More than twice the amount of vodka was sold per adult through off-sales in Scotland than in England and Wales in 2013.
  • Alcohol is now around 60% more affordable than it was in 1980 with this trend being driven by the off-trade.