This week I led in a debate on alcohol harm, where I highlighted the progress being made in Scotland to tackle this issue and called on the UK Government to emulate this progress.
Alcohol abuse can have profound effects on the health and wellbeing of abusers and their families, as well as having serious impacts on the wider community. In Scotland, 686 hospital admissions and 22 deaths every week are due to alcohol; in 2018 this meant 1,136 alcohol-specific deaths.
Early evaluations of Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol have been extremely encouraging. As the first country in the world to introduce this measure, off-trade sales per adult in Scotland fell by 3.6% in the first year, while they rose in England by 3.2%, and studies have shown this could lead to around 121 fewer deaths each year in Scotland. There was also an 18.6% fall in off-trade cider sales per adult in Scotland, whilst this figure rose 8.2% in England and Wales. Of course, Minimum Unit Pricing works as part of a package of a whole range of measures and is not a silver bullet. However, it is helping to tackle the scourge of alcohol abuse in our communities.
All progress is welcome but we must continue to strive to improve our policies and support networks to tackle serious alcohol harm.
You can watch my speech below 👇