- Truer picture of alcohol harm revealed
- Alcohol causes 3,700 deaths in Scotland every year
- Last Christmas for heavily discounted alcohol
- Scotland's licensing system needs clearer direction
- Minimum pricing blog
- Minimum pricing gets green light
- Reflections on GAPC 2017
- Alcohol brands and young people
- Time for honest conversations about alcohol
- Q&A on alcohol marketing
- UK children anxious about parents' drinking
- Quarter of Scots drink above guidelines
- Alcohol producers failing to inform public
- Concern over alcohol-related deaths
- We need to make it easier for people to drink less
- Worrying rise in alcohol-related deaths
- Minimum pricing will save lives
- Pocket money prices for alcohol continue
- Scotland's alcohol problem laid bare
- Cheap alcohol is costing Scotland dear
- One drink a day can increase breast cancer risk
- Poverty linked to increased harm from alcohol
- What next for reducing alcohol harm in Scotland?
- Scotland must do more to turn tide of alcohol harm
- Concern as funding for alcohol services cut
- Budget: No change in alcohol duty
- Scottish Government urged to curb alcohol marketing
- Consumers have the right to know health risks
- Chancellor urged to tackle cheap, strong cider in Budget
- Online help for families affected by alcohol
- Alcohol-free childhood is healthiest option
- SWA granted leave to appeal minimum pricing
- Drink drive warning
- Scottish Greens call for action on alcohol marketing
- Scottish Government receives European alcohol award
- SWA will appeal to UK Supreme Court
- Half of alcohol being sold under 50p per unit
- SWA urged to respect minimum pricing decision
- Alcohol and mental health are closely linked
- Minimum pricing can be implemented in Scotland
- Alcohol sold at pocket money prices
- Scotland has so much to gain from reducing how much we drink
- AFS welcomes revised alcohol consumption guidelines
- Emergency services face shocking levels of alcohol abuse
- Every child has the right to grow up safe from alcohol harm
- Public health must prevail over big business
- New toolkit to help children affected by family alcohol problems
- Price check reveals cheap cost of strong alcohol
- Sales increase underlines need for minimum pricing
- Time to kick alcohol out of sport
- Alcohol linked with stomach cancer
- AFS calls for compulsory health warnings on alcoholic drinks
- Are supermarkets 'responsible retailers' when it comes to alcohol?
- Scottish health charities call for excise duty rise to tackle cheap alcohol
- Alcohol campaigners unite to call for stronger protection from alcohol advertising to children
- New resource for people concerned about alcohol in their community
- Minimum pricing decision delayed until summer
- No completely 'safe' level of drinking
- New alcohol guidelines published
- Minimum pricing - European court ruling
- Alcohol fuels ambulance assaults
- 82% of Scots agree drink driving is unacceptable
- Scotland's alcohol strategy - what next?
- Scotland leads way in evidence-based alcohol policy
- New report reveals impact of alcohol on emergency services
- Alcohol: a global concern
Truer picture of alcohol harm revealed
As we come to the end of Dry January, it’s sobering to read the latest assessment of just how badly alcohol is damaging our health. The figure of over 100,000 years of life lost due to early death or living in poor health in a single year should make us all pause for thought. I’m guessing that you, like me, know someone behind that statistic. Someone whose life - and the lives of those around them - has been blighted, or cut short, because of alcohol.
Perhaps one of the most surprising findings of this research was that alcohol-related cancers are the biggest killers. More than 1 in 4 of the deaths are due to cancers of the bowel, breast, stomach, throat or mouth. Most of us know the link between alcohol and liver disease and assume that it’s only people who are dependent on alcohol who are affected. Only a small minority of us (around 10%) are aware of the cancer risk and even fewer of us realise that even low levels of drinking increase our risk of cancer.
The research also highlights the wide range of health impacts that alcohol can have, from falls, road traffic accidents, alcohol poisoning and mental illness to pneumonia, stroke and pancreatitis. Some of those conditions may take years to affect us while others can occur after a single drinking session.
We often assume that young people are the problem and that those of us in middle age have less of an issue. It’s true that young people are more likely to be involved in alcohol-related accidents. But it’s also true that we 45-59 year olds are most likely to experience a heart condition, stroke, liver disease or cancer. And it’s not just ‘alcoholics’ who suffer - we need to stop kidding ourselves that this is someone else’s problem.
Minimum unit pricing and alcohol labelling
So, what will solve our problem? Minimum unit pricing will save lives and is a strong start. But we also need to ensure that people have the information they need to make decisions about their drinking and their health. The government should require alcohol producers to label alcohol drinks clearly with health warnings and the Chief Medical Officers’ low risk guidelines. It is simply unacceptable that there is more consumer information on a pint of milk than on a bottle of wine.
And we need to protect children and young people from exposure to high levels of attractive alcohol marketing, which evidence shows increases the likelihood they will start drinking and drink more. The Scottish Government is consulting on restricting advertising of high fat, salt and sugar foods; why not do the same for alcohol?
We know we have an alcohol problem, a big problem. We know what will make a difference. What’s stopping us?
Alison Douglas, Chief Executive, Alcohol Focus Scotland