The Scottish Government’s new alcohol strategy includes a range of plans to tighten marketing regulations. The Scots will ‘press the UK Government to protect children and young people from exposure to alcohol marketing on television before the 9pm watershed and in cinemas – or else devolve the powers so the Scottish Parliament can act,’ states Alcohol framework 2018: preventing harm.
Alcohol misuse now costs Scotland £3.6bn per year, the equivalent of £900 per adult, says the document, which also includes proposals to consult on alcohol marketing in public spaces and online.
The 50p minimum unit price will also be reviewed after 1 May 2020, it says, while alcohol producers will be urged to include health information on labels.
The framework also states that while the government will work with the drinks industry on projects that ‘can impact meaningfully on reducing alcohol harms’ it will not do so on health policy development, health education or health messaging campaigns – Public Health England’s recent partnership with industry-funded body Drinkaware proved highly controversial (DDN, October, page 5).
‘Our new alcohol framework sets out our next steps on tackling alcohol-related harm,’ said public health minister Joe FitzPatrick. ‘We need to keep challenging our relationship with alcohol to save lives. These new measures build on the progress of our 2009 framework which has made an impact by tackling higher-risk drinking, but we want to go further. Scotland’s action is bold and it is brave and, as demonstrated by our world-leading minimum unit pricing policy, we are leading the way in introducing innovative solutions to public health challenges.’
‘There is strong support from the Scottish public to limit marketing of alcohol products and the evidence is clear that exposure to marketing drives consumption by children and young people,’ said chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, Alison Douglas. ‘We believe plans to consult on alcohol marketing restrictions are a positive step towards protecting the vulnerable and challenging alcohol’s prominent role in our society. Likewise, we are pleased to see that the Scottish Government are committed to improving alcohol labelling. It is clearly unacceptable that more information is required on a pint of milk than a bottle of wine and the industry continues to show a complete disregard for our right to know what is in our drinks and what the risks associated with alcohol consumption are.’
Meanwhile a new report from Manchester Metropolitan University and Aquarius urges health and social care practitioners and substance use professionals to ‘rethink the needs of older people with drinking problems’. Increasing numbers of older people are drinking to ‘harmful or mildly dependent levels’ says Older people and alcohol: a practice guide for health and social care.
‘Older people seeking treatment for alcohol use are often in poor health and have a range of complex social, health and other care needs associated with their substance use,’ said professor of adult social care at Manchester Metropolitan University, Sarah Galvani. ‘Evidence suggests that the complex health and social care needs of older people with problem alcohol use requires a different approach.’
Alcohol framework at www.gov.scot
Report at www2.mmu.ac.uk