Thursday, 24 December 2009




Scotland’s public health directors have written to MSPs urging them to back minimum pricing for alcohol as part of the Scottish government’s package of measures to address Scotland’s relationship with alcohol.

Writing to MSPs the letter from the Scottish Directors of Public Health Group, signed by 17 directors of Public Health in Scotland states:

Over the past thirty years in Scotland, our level of deaths directly caused by alcohol – conditions like alcoholic cirrhosis and alcoholic heart disease – has almost tripled. One person in Scotland is dying every three hours of every day as a direct result of alcohol, many of them prematurely. Fifteen of the twenty local areas in the UK with the highest male alcohol-related death rates between 1998 and 2004 are in Scotland, and the top five are all Scottish, spread across from Inverclyde to Dundee.”

The Directors continue to call for support to end cheap alcohol and promotions in the interests of Scotland’s public health.

“Minimum pricing and reduced discounting are ways of reducing alcohol consumption that do not require the approval of the Westminster Parliament. For the sake of the health and social wellbeing of the people in Scotland we encourage you to support these actions.”

Welcoming the letter which has been sent to MSPs of all parties SNP MSP Michael Matheson, a member of the health committee said:

“No one wants to stop people drinking safely and sensibly and many people will be looking forward to toasting Christmas and the New Year with a drink.

"While we enjoy ourselves sensibly over Christmas with family and friends, Christmas cheer must be followed by political action to tackle the problem of cheap cider, vodka and beer wreaking havoc on our society, damaging Scotland's health and affecting too many of Scotland's families.

“This is a significant show of support for the Scottish Government’s bold proposals to address Scotland’s relationship with alcohol.

"Our alcohol consumption is increasing and the relative cost of alcohol has decreased. Despite numerous opportunities supermarkets have shown they will not act responsibly when it comes to price and alcohol.

"As the supermarkets will not take action the Government has no choice but to put in place a responsible price for alcohol.

“Scotland’s Public Health Directors are right to approach MSPs and I hope their letter is welcomed by members from all parties.

“I am confident that as the evidence in favour of minimum pricing is presented to MSPs of all parties in the Health Committee Scotland will see politicians put party politics aside in favour of the compelling case for action to build a healthier and safer Scotland.”

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