- Alcohol-specific deaths in Scotland increase
- Students as Change Agents
- Health charities call for action to save lives from Scotlands biggest killers
- Australian ministers agree to visible pregnancy warning
- Three quarters of Scots back new controls to help protect children from alcohol advertising
- More accurate estimates for the burden of Alcohol on the Ambulance Service: around 1 in 6 callouts in Scotland are alcohol related
- How can alcohol labels be improved to help people make informed consumption choices
- Health experts call for better alcohol labelling
- Young people and their views on alcohol marketing
- Lowest alcohol sales in Scotland for 26 years
- Minimum unit pricing has lasting impact study shows
- Euros renews call for action to protect children from alcohol sports sponsorship
- Current alcohol labelling of little relevance to young adult drinkers
- Governments should step up efforts to tackle harmful alcohol consumption
- Scottish public and leading health experts back changes to alcohol labelling
- AFS calls for 65p minimum unit price for alcohol
- How will the main parties prevent harm from alcohol?
- Alcohol labelling reform is way past its sell by date
- Alcohol policy priorities for the next parliament
- Young drinkers believe prominent health warnings on alcohol could boost risk awareness
- Alcohol and the Workplace Effective Interventions
- Alcohol sales and consumption in Scotland during the pandemic
- How can we prevent alcohol deaths?
- Alcohol Deaths and Minimum Unit Pricing
- Young Scots show support for restrictions on alcohol marketing
- YoungScot Health Panel report on alcohol marketing and harm
- New release of alcohol related hospital admissions
- Better alcohol labelling – A way to boost awareness of the risk between alcohol and cancer?
- Alcohol Deaths Prevention Support
- Almost half of Scots in favour of minimum unit pricing
- NICE Guidelines on FASD Surveillance or Support?
- Leading health charities call for action in Scotland
- Health experts campaign for better understanding of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
- Health experts call for alcohol labelling overhaul
- Survey shows Scots lockdown drinking rise caused by stress
- Alcohol Focus Scotland welcomes new WHO report on alcohol pricing
- Statistical analysis of off-trade alcohol sales in the year following MUP
- Alcohol Focus Scotland Review of statements of licensing policy 2018 to 2023
- We need to continue long-term focus on alcohol
- Scots report changing drinking patterns during coronavirus lockdown
- Time to Blow the Whistle on Alcohol Sport Sponsorship
- New evidence demonstrates that alcohol ads lead to youth drinking
- Alcohol sales fall in first year of MUP
- First study published into under 18 drinkers post MUP
- Commission on Alcohol Harm calls for evidence
- Two years on Are annual functions reports reaching their potential?
- We need to do more to protect our children and young people
- Scottish primary children call for action on alcohol
- New Alcohol Deaths Prevention Support Now Available from AFS
- Its time to tell us whats in our drinks
- A home for Rory
- Making a bad impression - blog post
- Alcohol sales and MUP
- Alcohol marketing and children debate in the Scottish Parliament
- Lowest alcohol sales in 25 years
- Research into fall in violence
- The Children's Parliament investigates an alcohol-free childhood
- Minimum unit pricing one year on
- More about sales data
- A family of resources it is all about prevention, education and resilience
- AFS publish Review of Licensing Board Annual Functions Reports 2017-2018
- Marketing unmasked dispelling the myths and taking a stand
- No place for alcohol marketing in sport
- Scotland publishes first UK guidelines for diagnosing fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD)
- The Alcohol Framework 2018 Preventing Harm
- Scotlands new drug and alcohol strategy launched
- AFS welcome new alcohol strategy
- Recent reporting on alcohol sales data
- Diageo is failing to provide latest guidelines on their products
- Drinks companies keeping consumers in dark about risky drinking
- Reducing alcohol consumption can address health inequalities
- Global first alcohol policy set to save hundreds of Scots' lives
- AFS welcomes minimum unit pricing for alcohol
- Truer picture of alcohol harm revealed
- Alcohol causes 3,700 deaths in Scotland every year
- Scotland's licensing system needs clearer direction
- Minimum pricing blog
- Minimum pricing gets green light
- Alcohol brands and young people
- Time for honest conversations about alcohol
- Q&A on alcohol marketing
- UK children anxious about parents' drinking
- 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
- Scottish Government urged to curb alcohol marketing
- Consumers have the right to know health risks
- Alcohol-free childhood is healthiest option
- SWA granted leave to appeal minimum pricing
- Scottish Greens call for action on alcohol marketing
- SWA will appeal to UK Supreme Court
- SWA urged to respect minimum pricing decision
- Minimum pricing can be implemented in Scotland
- AFS welcomes revised alcohol consumption guidelines
- Emergency services face shocking levels of alcohol abuse
- New toolkit to help children affected by family alcohol problems
- Alcohol campaigners unite to call for stronger protection from alcohol advertising to children
- No completely 'safe' level of drinking
- New alcohol guidelines published
- Minimum pricing - European court ruling
- Alcohol: a global concern
Alcohol-free childhood is healthiest option
The Scottish Ambulance Service deals with over 1000 alcohol-related incidents involving under-18s every year.
Being sick, having an argument and doing something which is later regretted are the most common short-term consequences of under-age drinking. Sadly, there can also be more serious long-term consequences; drinking patterns started in early adolescence can lead to problem drinking in later life. There are also serious risks to personal safety with too many tragic examples of young people dying from hypothermia, drowning or having some other kind of accident when drunk.
On top of this, young people's bodies and brains are more vulnerable to alcohol’s toxic effects because they are still developing. The scientific evidence is that an alcohol-free childhood is the healthiest and best option.
The latest survey of secondary school pupils’ substance use shows that around a third of 13 year olds and two thirds of 15 year olds in Scotland have tried alcohol. Most teenagers in Scotland drink infrequently and the number of pupils drinking in the last week has fallen over the past 15 years. But alcohol is still the drug of choice for many teenagers and it’s concerning that there has been an increase in the proportion of 13 year olds who report being drunk in the past week.
There are certain risk factors which make young people more likely to drink including having older friends, having more money to spend and pressure to ‘fit in’ with what others are doing. Stricter enforcement of licensing laws has made it more difficult for teenagers to purchase alcohol directly from shops; they are now more likely to get alcohol from home, older friends and relatives.
As children grow up, their attitude towards alcohol will be influenced by what they see, hear and experience at home. Parents shouldn’t underestimate how much influence they can have. Many parents think it is a good idea to give their children alcohol to remove the ‘mystique’ and to introduce some control about what, where and how much they drink. But it is important for parents to be aware of the potentially very serious harm that alcohol can do to children and young people.
On top of that, we know more and more people are choosing to drink at home. Parents may think that their children don’t notice their drinking but they do. When talking with a group of parents recently, one dad said he was shocked when his young daughter brought him a beer from the fridge as he settled on the sofa to watch the match, because ‘that’s what you do when you watch football’. A mum told us: “When I put my kids to bed one night they asked me if it was wine o’clock time now. I didn’t even think they knew I had a wee drink.”
It’s clear that our attitudes and behaviours shape those of our kids. Next month, Alcohol Focus Scotland will launch a new website for parents and families called My Family and Alcohol. This will help families to explore if, and how, they are affected by someone’s drinking and it will provide advice and a directory of support services.
As well as seeing alcohol at home, children are also regularly bombarded with positive messages about alcohol on television, social media, in shops and on our streets. Children as young as 10 years old are highly familiar with alcohol brands and we know that exposure to advertising can lead to young people drinking at an earlier age and drinking more. Our #alcoholfreekids campaign has been supported by children’s charities, health groups and MSPs from all parties who agree that alcohol marketing has no place in childhood. Children should not have to see alcohol being advertised outside the school gates or when they visit Murrayfield or Hampden Park.
Young people are growing up with the message that drinking is normal, risk-free and fun. That’s not surprising when we have such a high number of outlets selling alcohol at pocket money prices and it is so heavily promoted. There are very few spaces which are completely alcohol-free – it seems alcohol is available literally anytime, anywhere. A recent example was a “family-friendly rave”, aimed at parents with children under 8, applying for an alcohol licence. And, if there’s one setting which should definitely be alcohol-free it’s school, yet alcohol is served at parent’s evenings and carol concerts. Licensing boards need to think very carefully about the potential impact on children when granting licences for such events.
We will be publishing a report early next year which makes recommendations to ensure children can go about their daily lives without constantly seeing alcohol brands and messages. Among these will be recommendations to ban alcohol advertising in public spaces like streets, parks and on public transport, and phasing out alcohol sponsorship in sport.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Europe Declaration on Young People and Alcohol states that all children and adolescents have the right to grow up in an environment protected from the negative consequences of alcohol consumption. It shouldn’t be too much to ask that children in Scotland can play, learn and socialise in places that are healthy and safe, free from exposure to alcohol marketing and harm.
Alison Douglas, Chief Executive, Alcohol Focus Scotland