Reducing harm caused by alcohol


Campaigners gather in Edinburgh for global alcohol conference

Focus on protecting children and young people from alcohol marketing

Edinburgh will host a major international conference this week to look at the most effective ways to reduce alcohol-related harm. The Global Alcohol Policy Conference (GAPC) will be held from 7-9 October and will attract over 400 delegates from 55 countries around the world.

Scotland was selected to host the conference because of the progressive approach we are taking to prevent alcohol harm, in particular the decisive action by the Scottish Government to tackle cheap alcohol through minimum unit pricing.

Drinking habits vary considerably across the world but rising alcohol consumption is a growing threat to health in many countries.  Worldwide, alcohol causes 3.3 million deaths annually. Presenters at the conference will discuss the most effective policies to address this harm, including increasing price, restricting availability and enforcing bans on alcohol marketing.

There will be a special focus on the right of all children to grow up in an environment protected from the promotion of alcohol. Research shows that exposure to alcohol marketing increases the likelihood that young people will start to drink, and to drink more if they are already drinking.

Derek Rutherford, Chair of the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance (GAPA) said:

“There is no part of the world that remains unaffected by alcohol problems. It is the fifth leading cause of disease and disability worldwide and causes 3.3 million deaths every year. In light of this it beggars belief that the global alcohol industry continually persist in tactics to undermine effective alcohol policies. It is particularly important that we build capacity in parts of the world where alcohol harm is increasing but control policies are limited.”

Dr Mac Armstrong, Chair of Alcohol Focus Scotland said:

“If we want to reduce liver disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, injuries and mental health problems, we need to step up our alcohol control efforts. I am delighted to welcome everyone taking part in the Global Alcohol Policy Conference and hope it can be a catalyst for concerted action to counter the significant health and social problems that alcohol causes here in Scotland and around the world.”