Reducing harm caused by alcohol


How will the main parties prevent harm from alcohol?

Alcohol is a leading risk factor for death, disability, and ill health in Scotland causing over 200 health conditions and diseases such as liver cirrhosis, cancer, heart disease and stroke. Someone is admitted to hospital every 15 minutes, and every day 10 people die due to alcohol. In addition to all  this, drinking can affect our mental health and contributes to the breakdown of families and relationships and causes problems in our communities.

We are pleased that all five of the main parties have made commitments relating to preventing harm from alcohol in their recently published manifestos.

With the election just days away we thought we would take this opportunity to summarise some of those commitments.

The SNP have committed to introducing restrictions on alcohol advertising in locations where children are “readily exposed”. Relating to alcohol and drugs prevention more generally the SNP have committed to invest £250 million over the lifetime of the parliament to support a range of community-based interventions, including primary prevention, and an expansion of residential rehabilitation.

The Conservatives have committed to including the Chief Medical Officers’ low-risk guidelines (no more than 14 units a week for men and women) on labels as well as providing support for local communities to engage with the licensing system. They also have said they plan to review services focusing on “prevention, early identification and intervention” and to ensure  data is  improved so  that anyone can access treatment and recovery services, wherever they live and whatever their circumstances. Alcohol is also mentioned under the manifesto section on education where they commit to supporting schools to provide information on alcohol, drugs and smoking.

Labour have included commitments to introduce a social responsibility levy on alcohol sales and use the money to support a new alcohol strategy which would include “reducing consumption through licensing, marketing restrictions, labelling and affordability, as well as improving treatment services and early intervention programmes for families with children.”

Relating to alcohol and drug services more generally Labour also include support for safe consumption rooms, community resources and improved access to residential rehabilitation and treatment.

The Greens have included a wide range of commitments on alcohol prevention. Namely, they have said they will introduce mandatory unit, calorie and ingredient labelling and prominent health warnings on all alcohol products. They have also pledged to make the licensing system more transparent and accessible to local communities, to introduce a social responsibility levy on alcohol retailers, and to ban outdoor alcohol advertising and advertising in public spaces and end alcohol sponsorship of sports events.

The LibDems have committed to link the minimum unit price of alcohol to inflation.

They also have commitments to protect and enhance ADP budgets and to address causes of addiction as well as provide more support for treatment.


29 April 2021.