Alcohol adverts should be banned on TV before 9pm, says Scottish Government

A TV watershed for alcohol adverts and compulsory health labelling on products could be brought in under Scottish Government plans.

More than 23,000 Scots were taken to hospital because of their drinking last year. Picture: Kirsty OConnor/PA

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick unveiled a new 20-point framework at a conference in Edinburgh on Tuesday, aimed at tackling the negative impacts of drink.

It comes as official figures show there were 35,499 alcohol-related hospital admissions in Scotland during 2017-18.

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Mr FitzPatrick said: “We’ve got 14% higher consumption of alcohol than the rest of the UK - and the UK is about the worst in western Europe, so we have our issues that we need to resolve.

“I don’t think there’s been any clear evidence as to why Scotland’s relationship with alcohol is so challenging but it is - so we have to do something about it.

“People will make their own choices but we want to make sure they have the best possible chance to make informed choices with the information the chief medical officer has released.”

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The UK Government is introducing a 9pm watershed for unhealthy food products.

Laws on marketing are not a devolved matter so Scottish ministers will push for it to cover alcohol as well.

If not, calls for those powers to be devolved to Holyrood will be made so action can be taken north of the border.

Businesses are also being asked to place health information on their products.

Mr FitzPatrick said he will look at what legislation can be introduced if this is not done voluntarily by September 2019.

Figures released on Tuesday show people living in deprived areas are seven times more likely to suffer harm due to drink than others.

Mr FitzPatrick added: “I hope in the main (the alcohol industry) responds constructively.

“Many of the producers are already labelling their products with chief medical officer’s guidelines but some aren’t.

“This would potentially create a level playing field, where everyone raises their game to the highest standard.

“We can’t stand back and ignore the fact that right now, every day, someone who grew up in a more deprived area is far more likely to be affected by alcohol harm.”

Minimum unit pricing on alcohol was introduced in Scotland in May, after years of legal battles with the alcohol industry.

Calls are now being made to have similar legislation brought in across the UK.

Nicola Sturgeon had been due to unveil Alcohol Framework 2018: Preventing Harm but had to travel to London for a series of meetings over Brexit.