Reducing harm caused by alcohol

Campaigns & Policy

Alcohol Focus Scotland campaigns for evidence-based policies to reduce alcohol-related harm.

AFS Manifesto 2016

Prevent chronic diseases

  • Implement a 50p minimum unit price
  • Increase alcohol taxes, particularly on high strength cider and spirits.
  • Introduce mandatory unit, calorie and ingredient labelling and prominent health warnings on all alcohol products.

Protect children and young people

  • Remove alcohol advertising in public places including billboards and public transport.
  • Remove alcohol adverts from cinemas for non-18 certificate films and before 9pm on television.
  • Phased removal of alcohol sponsorship of sports, music and cultural events.
  • Establish an independent body to regulate alcohol marketing.

Create healthier, safer neighbourhoods

  • Make the licensing system more transparent, accessible and accountable to local people, starting with user-friendly reporting.
  • Develop a national policy on reducing the availability of alcohol, including the role of licensing.
  • Introduce a social responsibility levy so alcohol retailers contribute to the wider cost of their activities on the community.
  • Create health promoting communities and encourage alternative business models that rely less on the sale of health-damaging products.

Effective alcohol policy

How can we reduce alcohol harm?

International evidence shows that effective alcohol policy encompasses a range of interventions aimed at the whole population, with particular targeting of high risk groups.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends these effective policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol:

  • Raise taxes on alcohol
  • Restrict access to retailed alcohol
  • Enforce bans on alcohol advertising
  • Enforce drink-driving laws (breath testing)
  • Offer brief advice for hazardous drinking

Alcohol Focus Scotland endorses the recommendations in Health First (PDF) an evidence-based alcohol strategy for the UK.

Which approaches are least effective in reducing alcohol harm?

The interventions with the weakest evidence base for reducing alcohol harm include self-regulation of alcohol marketing, voluntary codes of retail practice, and information/education approaches. These are the measures promoted by the alcohol industry to try to avoid regulation and protect their business interests.