Reducing harm caused by alcohol


Concern over alcohol-related deaths

Alcohol Focus Scotland, BMA Scotland, Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) and Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs have written to Shona Robison MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, and Aileen Campbell MSP, Minister for Public Health and Sport.

In the letter we express our concern over the latest alcohol-related death figures which show that 1,265 Scots lost their lives to alcohol last year; a 10% increase on the previous year and the highest figure since 2010. This is significantly higher than the equally tragic 867 drug deaths in 2016, as published earlier this week. Together alcohol and drugs caused over 2,000 deaths in Scotland last year – deaths which are entirely preventable.

While there are likely to be many reasons behind these increases, not least the fact that minimum unit pricing is still not in place, the recent cut in direct funding to local Alcohol and Drug Partnerships (ADPs) has surely played a part.

We urge the Scottish Government to re-commit its efforts and resources over the longer term to support evidence-based policies that will save Scottish lives. The joint report which we published earlier this year contains a comprehensive set of policies aimed at changing Scotland’s damaging relationship with alcohol and addressing the associated health inequalities.

We seek your reassurance that the scope of the alcohol strategy ‘refresh’ will be proportionate to the scale of the problem facing Scotland.