Reducing harm caused by alcohol


Public health must prevail over big business

As the alcohol minimum pricing court case continues this week, public health and charity leaders have come together to reaffirm their support for the life-saving measure.

In an open letter (pdf) they outline the devastating effects of cheap, strong alcohol: people’s health irreparably damaged; unhappy childhoods and families torn apart; drunkenness and disorder on the streets and in homes; young men with life-changing injuries from drunken assaults; all of this creating a huge, avoidable burden on our GPs, hospitals and emergency services.

This harm is fuelled by strong white ciders and spirits sold for as little as 18p per unit in supermarkets and corner shops. Minimum pricing will raise the price of these very cheap drinks which are favoured by young, vulnerable and harmful drinkers. It won’t affect the price of a pint in the pub or a glass of wine with a restaurant meal as these already cost much more than 50p per unit.

At least 4,500 Scots have died of alcohol-related diseases in the four years since the Scottish Parliament voted overwhelmingly to pass minimum pricing. But the policy has been delayed by the legal challenge led by the Scotch Whisky Association.

Alison Douglas, Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said:

“The Scotch Whisky Association - whose members produce some of the biggest global brands - have echoed the tactics of the tobacco industry in delaying life-saving legislation. They have dismissed the scientific evidence and disregarded the democratic process to protect their members’ substantial profits.

“Minimum pricing will bring Scotland many benefits – it will help to reduce health inequalities, it will cut alcohol-related hospital admissions and crime and it will save hundreds of lives. We hope that this week the health of the people of Scotland will come before the profits of big business.”