Reducing harm caused by alcohol


Scotland leads way in evidence-based alcohol policy

The UK Government's alcohol policies are weaker than those implemented by the devolved nations, a landmark report from the Universities of Stirling and Sheffield has found.

Policies from the UK Government and devolved administrations were reviewed against recommendations from Health First, the independent expert-devised UK alcohol strategy, in the first such audit of its kind. Overall strategy, pricing, marketing and availability of alcohol were among the areas examined.

Scotland had the strongest approach overall, seeking to implement the most evidence-based policies, working to clear outcomes, and with a taskforce in place to monitor and evaluate the Scottish Government's alcohol strategy.

By contrast, the UK Government did not support the most effective policies, made inconsistent use of evidence and was the most engaged with the alcohol industry.

While Wales and Northern Ireland took strong positions in areas such as taxation and restrictions on young drivers, they have fewer legislative powers than the Scottish Parliament.

Read the report: Four Nations: How Evidence-based are Alcohol Policies and Programmes Across the UK?

Dr Niamh Fitzgerald from the University of Stirling who co-authored the report, said:

"Alcohol policy at UK Government level is in disarray, with it choosing to reduce taxation despite evidence that consumption and alcohol-related harms will increase as a result, putting even greater pressure on NHS and emergency services.

"In contrast to the UK Government, the devolved administrations - especially Scotland - are taking steps to address the widespread harms due to alcohol, recognising that they are a 'whole population' issue. All four nations, however, engage in partnership with the alcohol industry, despite clear conflicts of interest and its history of failure to support policies most likely to work."