MATHESON VOWS TO KEEP TACKLING ALCOHOL HARM

Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson has vowed to help tackle the impact of harmful alcohol consumption after meeting members of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK.

There are an estimated 3,705 alcohol-related deaths and 41,161 alcohol-related hospital admissions in Scotland each year.

Meanwhile, 24% of adults across Scotland exceed the chief medical officers’ guidelines of consuming fewer than 14 units of alcohol per week, which puts them at a higher risk of developing a range of serious health problems.

On a more encouraging note, alcohol consumption in Scotland fell by 3% last year, after the Scottish Government introduced minimum unit pricing in May 2018. It rose by 1.5% over the same period in England and Wales, which don’t have minimum unit pricing.

Mr Matheson said: “Scotland has led the way by bringing in minimum unit pricing and the early results are very positive. However, harmful alcohol consumption continues to have an impact on our community.

“It deeply concerns me that so many people are ignoring the chief medical officers’ warnings about excess drinking. The worrying fact is that alcohol increases the risk of developing seven types of cancer, heart disease, stroke, dementia and high blood pressure, among other health conditions.

“We have more work to do to support dependent drinkers with policies aimed at reducing alcohol harm and tackling health inequalities – and to get the message across to binge drinkers about the potential implications of their actions.”

The Alcohol Health Alliance UK (AHA) is a coalition of 50 organisations that campaigns for evidence-based policies to reduce alcohol-related harm. Members include medical royal colleges, charities and patient representatives.

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chairman of the AHA, said: “Alcohol continues to cause immense harm to our communities and puts considerable pressure on the NHS and other public services. It is great to see the progress being made in Scotland, but there is still scope to do more.

“The World Health Organisation’s evidence shows that the most effective policies to reduce alcohol harm are those that address its affordability, promotion and availability. We are looking forward to the Scottish Government’s consultation on alcohol marketing in 2020.”