SHAAP calls on Scottish Government to act as deaths caused by alcohol increase

Responding to the publication today of annual data on deaths caused by alcohol, which revealed an increase of 17%, Elinor Jayne, Director of SHAAP, said:

The number of people in Scotland who died directly as a result of alcohol should act as a reminder to all that it’s not only drugs that cause immense harm and suffering, but alcohol too. Everyone left behind by those who have died as a result of alcohol will testify to that.

While Scotland led the way by introducing minimum unit pricing for alcohol in 2018, there’s still a long way to go to turn these figures round and most importantly, reduce the damage caused by alcohol to people’s lives and health.

Dr Alastair MacGilchrist, Chair of SHAAP, said:

While the introduction of minimum unit pricing reduced the amount of alcohol consumed in Scotland and led to deaths from alcohol falling by 10%, today’s figures show progress has been halted, probably at least in part due to changed drinking patterns during the pandemic.

The Scottish Government needs to take further action to limit the harm caused by alcohol, starting with increasing the minimum unit price from 50p to 65p. There is also a raft of other WHO-endorsed measures which should be taken forward, from restricting marketing and preventing children’s exposure to alcohol advertising through to restricting accessibility of alcohol. And the time has come to ensure that everyone who has a problem with alcohol has easy access to the treatment and support they need, to help reduce consumption and begin recovery.

There is much we can do to reduce harm and deaths caused by alcohol and we call on the Scottish Government to work with us to ensure more measures are taken forward. We must redouble efforts to reduce the number of people who tragically lose their lives to alcohol.