In: Holyrood;

Written by Tom Freeman on 20 November 2018 in News

The Scottish Government could take a tougher stance on the marketing and labelling of alcohol, according to the aims of a new strategy published today.

Unveiled at a Europe-wide conference on alcohol in Edinburgh today, the new ‘Alcohol Framework 2018: Preventing Harm’ document pledges a consultation on ways to limit the marketing of alcohol products.

Speaking to delegates at the conference, Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick also said the current minimum unit price of 50p would be reviewed in May 2020.

Alcohol producers will be urged to put more health information on labels, he said.

The document comes as figures showed there were 35,499 hospital admissions related to alcohol in Scotland in 2017-18, representing 23,494 individual people.

Although the rate as a percentage of the population has fallen 2.5 per cent on the previous year, it is still relatively high compared to other countries, including the rest of the UK.

Minimum unit pricing, which came in in May, was targeted at cheap harmful alcohol consumed by high-risk drinkers such as white cider and cheap vodka. While sales of brands like Frosty Jacks have plummeted since, other popular off-sale drinks like Buckfast and Tennent’s Lager have seen sales increase.

Fitz Patrick said the government would be “bold and brave” in tackling the issue, and would lobby the UK Government on issues which were reserved like broadcast advertising.

“Our new Alcohol Framework sets out our next steps on tackling alcohol-related harm,” he said.

“We need to keep challenging our relationship with alcohol to save lives. Behind each statistic is a person, a family, a community struggling with the impact of alcohol harms.

“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.”

Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said: “We warmly welcome the alcohol strategy published by Scottish Government today, particularly the commitments on marketing and labelling as well as the pledge to review the current minimum unit price of 50 pence. 

 “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. 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. She added: “Likewise, we are pleased to see that the Scottish Government are committed to improving alcohol labeling. 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.”

Photo: Allison Douglas

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