Alcohol sales drop but Scots still ‘drinking too much’20th August, 2013 by Andy Young
A report released by NHS Health Scotland has shown that the amount of alcohol sold in the country fell between 2011 and 2012, but warns that many Scots are still drinking too much.
The amount of pure alcohol sold in Scotland fell by 3% per person between 2011 and 2012, according to the report. Since 2009 Scots have consumed 10 million fewer bottles of wine, three million bottles of spirits or 35 million pints of beer each year since 2009.
Mark Robinson, public health information manager at NHS Health Scotland, said: “It is good news for Scotland’s health and wellbeing that alcohol consumption is starting to decline.
“We know that the ban on multi-buy promotions was associated with a fall in sales and that alcohol affordability has declined as a result of the challenging economic climate.
“However, although these positive effects are welcome, we are still drinking too much as a nation, and a large proportion of alcohol is still being sold at relatively low prices.”
The report said that 10.9 litres of pure alcohol were sold for every adult in Scotland, which equates to 21 units of alcohol a week; this is the safe limit for men, but the recommended safe limit for women in 14 units a week.
The report also highlighted that 60% of the alcohol sold in off-sales and supermarkets cost less than 50 pence per unit, which is the minimum unit price proposed by the Scottish government.
However many in the trade urged the government not to push through further legislation.
Patrick Browne, chief executive of the Scottish Beer and Pub Association, told the Herald Scotland: “These figures are both interesting and significant. As well as legislation and awareness the recession is also playing a part.
“We are also seeing a reduction in hospital admissions and deaths. But the question remains as to why Scotland consumes more than England and Wales. Its not just down to our tradition of consuming more spirits. Given that it appears measures introduced in Scotland appear to be working perhaps its time for the Government to pause and see what more these changes can bring before bringing in further legislation.”
The Wines and Spirits Trades Association chief executive Miles Beale added: ”We welcome the continued decline in alcohol consumption in Scotland – down 8% since 2009. A minimum unit price of 50p was predicted to achieve a 5.7% drop in consumption. Questions must now be asked about why the Scottish Government is continuing to pursue this unfair, ineffective and probably illegal policy.”