Tackling Scotland's Alcohol Problem


9th October 2013

Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) and the Scottish Alcohol Research Network (SARN) are delighted to announce the start of a series of lunchtime ‘Alcohol Occasional’ seminars to showcase new and innovative research on alcohol use. 

All the seminars will be run in conjunction with the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and will take place from 12.30 – 14.00 at their historic premises at 9, Queen Street Edinburgh, EH2 1JQ. Lunch will be provided.

These events will provide the chance for researchers, practitioners and policy makers and members of the public to hear about new alcohol related topics and discuss and debate implications for policy and practice.

The theme for the first year of the seminars is “Alcohol and Young People”. Seminars in October and December 2013 are as follows.

2013 Programme

31st October 2013 Jemma Lennox (MRC/CSO Social & Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow) 'You want people to say you have a fun life': The role of alcohol in young adults' identity creation on Facebook

19th December 2013 Dr Carly Lightowlers (John Moore’s University, Liverpool) The role of attitudes in shaping alcohol consumption and violent behaviour amongst young people in England and Wales

We are currently drafting the programme for the 2014 events but please put the following dates in your diary: 27th February, 24th April, 26th June 2014. If you are interested in presenting your own research, please get in touch with us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Important: Places for all events are strictly limited and we need you to confirm if you would like to attend these events. You can do this by emailing Anne-Marie Barry on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to confirm. If you have not booked, you will not have a place.

Doug Sellman (Alcohol Action NZ) comes to SHAAP

1st October 2013

Prof Doug Sellman (Director, National Addiction Centre Aotearoa New Zealand) joined talked to a small audiance of public health advocacy groups in an event jointly hosted with Alcohol Focus Scotland and the British Medical Association.

Click here to see his presentation.

Alcohol charities fear conflict of interest: 23/09/2013

24th September 2013

Health campaigners expressed surprise that a current senior civil servant in a key Department dealing with the implementation of minimum unit pricing has been confirmed as the incoming Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association. 

Dr Peter Rice, chair of SHAAP said: “The Scotch Whisky Association is currently involved in legal action in Scottish courts which is delaying the implementation of the Minimum Unit Price legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament in May 2012. Part of the SWA’s campaign against MUP has been focused on the trade implications for Europe, and SHAAP has previously pointed out the misinformation the alcohol industry has been disseminating in Europe. 

The SWA’s appointment of Mr Frost, described as the senior official responsible for the UK’s Government’s trade policy with the EU, raises some questions. Will he continue to represent the UK government in trade discussions involving alcohol until he takes up his SWA post? When did his relationship with the SWA start and what role has he played in the development of his Department’s policy on minimum unit pricing?”

Dr Evelyn Gillan, Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said: “AFS has been closely involved in countering the SWA’s challenge to minimum unit pricing by presenting the evidence that it will reduce harm and save lives. 

We were delighted that the Court found in favour of the Scottish Government in May and disappointed that the SWA and their allies immediately appealed, further delaying implementation. Mr Frost’s appointment to the organisation opposing minimum pricing is an obvious conflict of interest and another example of the revolving door between the public and private sector where gamekeeper turns poacher.”

The Scottish Health Survey: Alcohol Use

24th September 2013

Weekly alcohol consumption levels: Average unit consumption has fallen since 2003 and hazardous and harmful drinking prevalence has dropped since 2003 but 25% of men and 18% of women still drink at hazardous or harmful levels.

SHAAP Research and Policy Briefing No.3 September 2013

12th September 2013

This issue includes:

  • Is the price right? What health-care professionals need to know about alcohol sales and price
  • An update of alcohol consumption amongst women and older people
  • An update on minimum unit pricing policy

Next issue: November 2013

Joint statement on Minimum Alcohol Misuse and Unit Pricing

10th September 2013

A briefing paper from the British Medical Association (BMA), Alcohol Focus Scotland (AFS) and Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP). Click here for a copy

Decrease in alcohol related deaths (27th August 2013): Dispelling the myth that only the young are problem drinkers

27th August 2013

Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) welcomes the latest figures released by GROS today, which indicate a 13% drop in alcohol-related death since 2011 and the lowest annual total since 1997. 

There are a range of possible explanations for these figures, including changes in licensing laws, growing acceptance amongst the public of the harm caused by excessive alcohol consumption and an increase in the delivery of Alcohol Brief Interventions by health care professionals.

However, it would appear the most likely explanation for the reduction in consumption is a combination of declining disposal income during the recession and the relative increase in the retail price of alcohol. 

A closer look at the GROS statistics tells us that some groups of society are more vulnerable that others to alcohol related harm and that the most vulnerable are middle age men.

  •  Of the 1,080 alcohol related deaths in 2012, 741 were male deaths and 339 were female.
  • Older people are more likely to die of alcohol related illness than young people. In 2012, there were 420 alcohol-related death of people aged 45-59, 394 deaths of 60-74 year olds, compared to 145 deaths of people who were 30-44.
  • The statistics tell us that 45-49 age group has had the largest number of alcohol related deaths in almost every year since 1979.

These figures, coupled with the news that alcohol consumption has declined by 3% in the past year, are reasons for hope.  However, Scotland still consumes 6% more alcohol than it did in 1994. The number of alcohol related deaths twenty years ago was 582; in 2012 that number rose to 1,080. The need to address harmful alcohol use across the Scotland is still urgent.

SHAAP welcomes falling alcohol consumption

20th August 2013

Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) welcomes the latest alcohol sales figures released by NHS Health Scotland today. In the past year, sales of alcohol have declined by 3%, continuing a downward trend in consumption; between 2009 and 2012, sales declined by a total of 8%. Off-trade sales have also fallen by 3% in the last year.

An Evaluation of the Implementation of, And Compliance With, the Objectives of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 – Final Report May 2013 (NHS Health Scotland)

6th June 2013

Positive outcomes of the Act:

  • Fewer irresponsible promotions were reported as taking place in pubs and clubs.
  • A reduction in the direct sales of alcohol to underage young people.
  • The successful establishment of the role of Licensing Standards Officers.
  • Giving Licensing Boards the power to review, revoke or suspend licences was thought to be a useful deterrent and a useful sanction against any alcohol outlet guilty of poor practice.
  • Improved relationships between Licensing Boards /LSO’s and trade members.

Areas for development:

  • Role and functioning of Local Licensing Forums  - some evidence that these bodies have stalled.
  • The public health objective – the licensing objective that Boards, Forums and LSO’s most struggle to address.
  • The larger off-trade sector has largely been unaffected by the Act.
  • Better and more consistent data collection at local and national level.

Recommendations include:

  • More guidance and support to be given nationally in relation to the public health objective.
  • Scottish Government should continue to consider measures to address the pricing of alcohol – for example press for the introduction of MUP once the judicial process has been fully determined.
  • All Licensing Boards to give further thought to the operation and effectiveness of the public health objective.
  • National and local datasets to be collected and collated consistently by Boards and LSOs, in order that meaningful comparison can be made of an agreed minimum data set.

Briefing on Scottish court judgement on minimum pricing

30th May 2013

SHAAP and Alcohol Focus Scotland have published a joint briefing on the Scottish court judgement on MUP. 

Read it here

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