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Scotland ‘leads the way’ on alcohol policy

Scotland ‘leads the way’ on alcohol policy

Scotland had “led the way” among the UK nations in using evidence to tackle alcohol misuse, according to a new academic report by the universities of Stirling and Sheffield.

Scotland has led the way on evidence-based measures, including the delivery of alcohol brief interventions by doctors, the report concludes, while the UK Government in Westminster is the only administration in the UK which doesn’t treat alcohol as a public health issue.

The report is the first of its type to compare policy across the nations.


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The UK Government should learn from Scotland’s approach and also drop its opposition to minimum unit pricing, the authors of Four Nations recommend.

The report also suggests the Scottish Government should go further. “The Scottish Government should continue to seek the powers necessary to take legislative action in line with the evidence, in particular in relation to alcohol advertising and sponsorship,” it says.

All administrations should stop engaging with the alcohol industry, the report also suggests.

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt welcomed the report.

“Our Alcohol Framework contains more than 40 measures to reduce alcohol-related harm and has had a positive impact so far but, while an average of around 22 people a week still die because of alcohol, there can be no room for complacency. That is why we are working on the next phase of our alcohol strategy which will be ready in 2016,” she said.

Scotland, which started with a bigger problem with alcohol use than elsewhere in the UK, began researching a “whole population approach” in 2007. The paper theorises this may have been because the SNP wanted to distance itself from the Westminster parties, or because it wasn’t subject to the same level of industry lobbying at that time. 

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