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I am writing in response to the article by Colin Valentine of Camra, “Demonising social drinking is the norm” (Friends of The Scotsman, 15 January). The methodology used to produce the figure of £3.6 billion annual societal cost of alcohol misuse (published in 2010, not 2007, as Mr Valentine claims) is available on the Scottish Government website.

Cumulative research shows that alcohol is a contributory cause of more than 200 illnesses, including heart disease and strokes.

In Scotland, alcohol-related hospital admissions are four times higher than in the early 1980s and the death rate due to alcohol is currently twice as high as in England and Wales. Clearly, Scotland’s relationship with alcohol is not a healthy one.

We agree with Mr Valentine that cheap supermarket alcohol is a major problem which is fuelling excessive home drinking and that well-run pubs can contribute positively to their local communities.

But the fact is that the health harm caused by alcohol is preventable if people drink less and less often. The liver can’t distinguish between sociable drinking in the pub and drinking at home alone.

(Dr) Evelyn Gillan

Alcohol Focus Scotland

Buchanan Street