- 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
What next for reducing alcohol harm in Scotland?
The Scottish Government is expected to publish its alcohol strategy ‘refresh’ in the summer, eight years since the last strategy – Changing Scotland’s Relationship with Alcohol: A Framework for Action.
Some good progress has been made since 2009. Scotland has banned irresponsible off-sales promotions which encouraged people to ‘bulk buy’ alcohol; lowered the drink drive limit to make our roads safer; and health professionals have delivered over 500,000 brief interventions to at-risk drinkers.
These are all positive steps and they have had some impact, but Scotland still has the highest level of consumption and harm in the UK. Alcohol-related deaths have risen again in each of the last two years, with 1,150 Scots dying because of alcohol in 2015, and the downward trend in sales has now stalled.
One million Scots are putting themselves at risk of cancer, stroke, liver disease and mental health problems by drinking above the recommended guidelines of 14 units per week.
One of the main reasons for the lack of progress is the delay to minimum unit pricing being introduced. Increasing the price of the cheapest alcohol is recognised as the most effective way to reduce consumption and harm and we hope that this will finally be introduced early next year.
It’s clear that addressing cheap alcohol is essential, but what else should we be doing?
The current alcohol strategy recognised that a multi-faceted approach is required to address alcohol problems. The evidence is very clear that approaches to reducing drinking across the population are much more effective (and cost-effective) in reducing problems than measures to change individual behaviour like education. Policies to restrict the supply and availability of alcohol are particularly effective.
Where we spend our time living, working and socialising affects the lifestyle choices we make. Our high streets have an abundance of off licences, pubs, fast food joints and betting shops. Asking people to make healthy choices won’t work unless we actively make our neighbourhoods, towns and cities healthier places to live.
A healthy environment isn’t just about more green spaces, it’s about ensuring that retail and leisure opportunities support positive lifestyles and contribute to wellbeing.
Alcohol is available pretty much everywhere we spend our leisure time – from shopping centres to sports events, cinemas and coffee shops. This creates the impression that alcohol is a normal part of everyday life when actually it’s a product that causes significant health and social harm. It is time we challenged how readily available alcohol is in Scotland.
Where once off-licences were specialist shops, now every corner shop and supermarket seems to be licensed. We know that the more alcohol that is available in an area, the more likely it is that the people living there will experience the negative consequences, from noise and litter to ill health and injury.
Every year, around 96% of all licensing applications are approved and over each of the last five years there have been increases in both on and off-sales licences. There are 40% more licensed premises in our most deprived communities than in our most affluent. A system that is intended, amongst other things, to protect and improve public health is failing to do so.
Scottish Government urgently needs to provide clear direction on controlling the availability of alcohol, with policy solutions that respond to changes in how and where we drink. Local licensing boards would then have a clearer framework for making decisions that contribute to national outcomes whilst also responding to local needs.
Licensing boards must also take better account of the experiences of the people affected by their decisions, whether that’s members of the public or front line workers like police, paramedics and doctors who deal with the effects of too much alcohol day in, day out.
There is currently a distinct lack of transparency about how this evidence is listened to and acted upon. Alcohol harm is costing local authorities millions of pounds a year. In Edinburgh alone, the annual cost is £221 million; money that could surely be better spent on social care, schools or many other competing needs. Decisions on licensed premises shouldn’t be made in isolation.
The implications of widely available alcohol go right across local authorities, putting extra pressure on resources and budgets for social work, health care, community safety and criminal justice, not to mention our emergency services.
Action to reduce the widespread availability of alcohol is one of the key recommendations in a new report produced by Alcohol Focus Scotland, BMA Scotland, SHAAP and Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol & Drugs.
The report contains a comprehensive set of policies aimed at curbing Scotland’s alcohol problem and addressing the associated health inequalities. It provides a blueprint for action which would improve the lives of millions of Scots, make our communities better and safer places to live, and reduce demand on our over-burdened public services.
Alison Douglas Chief Executive, Alcohol Focus Scotland