Dead at 51 through cheap booze: study shows true impact of alcohol on Scots drinkers

A report published today by Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) further highlights the harmful impact of alcohol in Scotland. SHAAP supported this important work carried out by a team from Edinburgh Napier University.
More than one in six heavy drinkers who took part in study died within 30 months.More than one in six heavy drinkers who took part in study died within 30 months.
More than one in six heavy drinkers who took part in study died within 30 months.

The findings come from detailed assessment and follow-up of over 600 heavy drinkers attending NHS services in Glasgow and Edinburgh. The study shows the extent of early death, with over 100 of these patients dying over the subsequent 2 and a half years at an average age of 51, around 25 years younger than typical life expectancy in Scotland. The Napier study also shows significant consumption of cheap alcohol, in particular vodka and white cider, by these now deceased patients.

SHAAP was the first organisation to call for minimum unit pricing of alcohol in Scotland, in 2007, because its members, based on their front line and research experience, judged that the measure would save many lives. Today’s report provides further evidence for this view.

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Dr Peter Rice, Chair of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP), said: “The Scottish Parliament passed legislation to introduce a Minimum Unit Price (MUP) for alcohol, at 50p per standard unit, in May 2012. We deeply regret that the implementation of MUP has been delayed by sustained legal challenge from parts of the drinks industry, led by the Scotch Whisky Association.

“The UK Supreme Court will hear the latest appeal on 24 and 25 July. We hope that it will uphold the two previous findings of the Court of Session in May 2013 and October 2016 and that the Scottish Government is then able to implement this life-saving measure”.

Dr Jan Gill, Associate Professor at Edinburgh Napier University and lead researcher for the report, said: “The data sharply highlight the personal toll linked to heavy alcohol consumption, while the full extent of its earlier impact on each drinker’s quality of life and personal relationships can only be guessed”.