Enough alcohol is bought in Scotland weekly for every person in the country to exceed the drinking guidelines substantially, according to the latest NHS Health Scotland report.
The report found that last year 10.5 litres of pure alcohol were sold per adult in Scotland, equivalent to 20.2 units for every individual each week. The UK Chief Medical Officers’ low risk alcohol guidelines advise against anyone drinking more than 14 units a week on a regular basis - so Scottish drinkers are exceeding the safety limits by 44 per cent every week in a year.
The report, Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland’s Alcohol Strategy 2017 brings together data on alcohol retail sales, price and affordability, self-reported alcohol consumption and alcohol-related deaths, hospital admissions and social harms. Leading alcohol charities were quick to call for further action to address the nation’s drink problem.
Alison Douglas, Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said: “It’s clear we need further action to change Scotland’s relationship with alcohol. One million Scots are regularly drinking too much; putting themselves at increased risk of liver disease, cancer, stroke and mental health problems.”
The lead author of the report, Lucie Giles, Public Health Intelligence Adviser said that it was “worrying” that Scots buy enough alcohol for every person to exceed the safety limits.
Monica Lennon, Labour MSP said: “We know that life choices and life chances are being impacted by austerity and cuts – the SNP has chosen to cut Alcohol and Drugs Partnership funding and to slash local budgets by £1.5 billion since 2011.
“Meanwhile public health experts in the NHS tell us that interventions that redistribute income, such as increasing the standard rate of income tax or implementation of a Living Wage, are among the most effective interventions for reducing inequalities and improving health. The SNP must review the recommendations of this report.”
Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said: “This report shows that, whilst some progress has been made in tackling alcohol misuse, we need to do more.
“Over the last few years, more than half of alcohol sold in supermarkets and off-licences was sold at less than 50p per unit, and enough alcohol was sold in the off-trade alone to exceed the weekly drinking guideline by a considerable amount.
“That is why we need minimum unit pricing, which will largely impact on the off-trade and will increase the price of the cheap, high strength alcohol.
“Our Framework has made an impact and we will build on this with a refreshed Framework which will be published later this year.”