Fewer than a fifth of Scots aware of ‘safe’ alcohol limits

FEWER then one in five people in Scotland know the country’s recommended alcohol limits, it has emerged.

An intake of 14 units is equal to six medium glasses of wine. Picture: contributed
An intake of 14 units is equal to six medium glasses of wine. Picture: contributed

The revelation comes as the Scottish Government launched a new campaign to raise awareness of the guidance, which states men and women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week.

The ‘Count 14’ awareness campaign has been developed to demonstrate what 14 units actually means in terms of alcoholic drinks in a bid to encourage people to think about how their weekly drinking adds up. A unit is the best way to describe the quantity of pure alcohol in a drink.

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Fourteen units is the equivalent of six pints of medium strength beer, lager or cider, six medium glasses of wine or seven double measures of spirits.

The guidelines were revised in 2016 and suggest those who regularly drink 14 units a week should spread it over three days or more with some alcohol-free days.

Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood said: “The guidelines are based on scientific evidence on the short and long-term impacts drinking alcohol has on health.

“Regularly exceeding the recommended maximum amount can lead to serious problems, including cancer of the mouth, throat and breast. If men and women limit their alcohol intake to no more than 14 units in a week, it keeps the risk of developing these conditions low. This important campaign was launched not only to make people aware of the guidance, but to help them understand what 14 units means in terms of what they drink, so they can make informed choices and reduce the risk of harm.”

A total of 840 Scottish adults took part in interviewing, with just 17 per cent aware of the 14-unit-a-week limit. Figures last year revealed Scots bought enough alcohol for every adult to drink nearly 20 units of alcohol a week.

Ahead of the campaign’s launch, public health minister Joe Fitzpatrick lamented the country’s “troubled relationship with alcohol”.

He said: “On average, every adult in Scotland is drinking 40 per cent more than the lower-risk guidelines of 14 units a week. Through the measures in the Alcohol Framework, our aim is to create a cultural shift toward a more balanced relationship with alcohol across our society. That needs to start with people having an understanding and awareness of what they are drinking on a weekly basis and the impact that is having on their health.”