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Scottish Parliament election 2021- what do the manifestos say about alcohol?
Tackling Scotland's Alcohol Problem

Ahead of this year’s election to the Scottish Parliament, SHAAP has analysed the policy proposals on alcohol put forward in each of the main political parties’ election manifestos. This is a snapshot of the proposals that have been featured and is by no means exhaustive, but aims to offer an overview of manifesto content for those who are interested in the different political parties’ policies on reducing alcohol harm in Scotland.

In SHAAP’s own manifesto, we asked all parties and candidates to commit to four focus areas in which we need to push harder and go further if we are truly to tackle Scotland's alcohol problem:

  • Affordability, availability and attractiveness
  • Investing in and improving treatment and support services
  • Supporting recovery and reducing health inequalities
  • Protecting children and young people

These commitments are more important than ever in the context of COVID-19, given the potential for growing health inequalities. SHAAP will continue to engage will all the political parties after the election to press for the implementation of progressive policies on alcohol. Now is the time for bold action on alcohol problems if we are to achieve our long-term public health goals and create a fairer Scotland for the future.

What do the parties say?

Scottish Greens LogoScottish Greens

The Scottish Greens have stated:

“We will tackle the root causes of poor health, such as poverty, smoking, drug and alcohol misuse and air pollution”.

“Bring back the Food Promotions Bill to restrict the marketing, promotion and advertising of unhealthy foods including alcohol”.

“Support alcohol and drug partnerships to develop a well-planned rehabilitation service that is integrated with other treatment services and increase the provision of residential rehabilitation”.

“We will:

  • Introduce mandatory unit, calorie and ingredient labelling and prominent health warnings on all alcohol products.
  • Work to make the licensing system more transparent and accessible to local communities
  • Introduce a social responsibility levy on alcohol retailers.
  • Ban outdoor alcohol advertising and advertising in public spaces and end alcohol sponsorship of sports events”.

SNPScottish National Party (SNP)

The SNP have stated Scotland is:

“leading the world on alcohol pricing” and

“We will look to introduce restrictions on alcohol advertising in locations where children would be readily exposed to it”.

Scottish Liberal Democrats LogoScottish Liberal Democrats

The Scottish Lib Dems have said:

“Alcohol related illness continues to affect too many people in Scotland and has not improved in years. It affects families and ruins lives. We understand that drug and alcohol abuse is often linked to other issues such as mental health and poverty. We will work hard to address the causes of these additions as well as provide more support for their treatment”.

“We will establish new specialist Family Drug and Alcohol Commissions to help provide wraparound services and to take a holistic approach to those reported for drug offences, learning from best international practice such as that in Portugal”.

“We will protect and enhance drug and alcohol partnership budgets, and adopt the principle that individuals and families shouldn’t have to pay for the care and treatment of those at risk of death from drugs or alcohol”.

“We will use emergency housing funding to help people keep their homes and tenancies while they undergo treatment and rehabilitation”.

“We will link the minimum unit price of alcohol to inflation”.

Scottish Conservatives LogoScottish Conservatives

The Scottish Conservatives have stated:

“Schools must also be supported to provide older children with the most effective information on drugs, alcohol, smoking and sexual health, including by introducing dedicated PSHE teachers in all schools”.

“We must also tackle problematic levels of alcohol consumption. We would work with the sector to roll out the inclusion of low risk drinking guidelines on alcohol packaging and support local communities to engage with the licensing system. We would carry out a review of Scotland’s alcohol services – prevention, early identification and intervention must be prioritised, while data must be improved to ensure that anyone with an alcohol problem, or at risk of developing one, can access treatment and recovery services, wherever they live and whatever their circumstances”.

“Being tough on crime is important, but we must also act to prevent crime happening in the first place by addressing links between crime and mental health issues, drug and alcohol use and poverty”.

“Access to mental health and addiction services in prison is essential, and efforts must be stepped up to prevent the use of drugs, particularly new psychoactive substances, and alcohol within prisons. Specific support programmes should be designed and piloted for those serving short sentences”.

Scottish Labour LogoScottish Labour

Scottish Labour have said they will:

“Implement a social responsibility levy on alcohol sales to support a new alcohol strategy. That plan will focus on reducing consumption through licensing, marketing restrictions, labelling and affordability, as well as improving treatment services and early intervention programmes for families with children”.

“During the lifetime of the SNP Government’s last alcohol and drugs strategy, 15,000 people in Scotland lost their lives due to substance misuse. The drug deaths crisis is a public health emergency, damaging individuals and communities. We need a new approach based on public health which is why Scottish Labour supported the adoption of safe consumption rooms, alongside expanded community resources that help people avoid substance misuse in the first place and improve access to residential rehabilitation and treatment”.

“We will place the restoration of support services for weight management, alcohol treatment and smoking cessation at the heart of the NHS’s recovery from the pandemic. This should include equitable access to effective weight management services, along with greater application of evidence-based psychological interventions to change lifestyle behaviours and to manage the psychological consequences of these diseases”.

“Scottish Labour will reform our prison system, with custody used for serious crimes, not a substitute for failing mental health or drug and alcohol services… This includes safe, secure facilities to deal with conditions such as alcohol overuse rather than police cells.”

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