Tuesday 3 December 2019

Alcohol-related deaths down in England, up in Scotland

More bad news for minimum pricing advocates today. The Office for National Statistics has published its first data set for alcohol-related mortality since minimum pricing was introduced in Scotland.

Regular readers will know that the number of alcohol-related deaths rose (by 16) in Scotland in 2018. Almost nobody else knows this because no media outlet bothered to report it, despite the figures being officially published in June.

The ONS confirms this rise, but its data also allow us to compare Scotland with the rest of Britain for the first time. If the number of deaths had risen sharply in England, it could have spared the temperance's lobby blushes somewhat, as they could have claimed that Scotland was only saved from a similarly dramatic rise by minimum pricing.

Alas for them, the number of deaths in England fell by 145. Wales also saw a decline. No figures are available for Northern Ireland.

Put another way, the alcohol-related death rate rose from 20.5 to 20.8 per 100,000 in Scotland, but fell from 11.1 to 10.7 per 100,000 in England and from 13.5 to 13.1 per 100,000 in Wales.

The usual caveat applies about the data showing the calendar year of 2018, rather than the full twelve months after minimum pricing - not that this bothered campaigners when they were hyping flawed consumption figures and cherry-picked mortality figures.

Still, it doesn't look good for the 'public health' lobby's favourite 'evidence-based' anti-alcohol policy. The Sheffield model famously predicted 58 fewer deaths in the first year.

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