Monday 2 March 2020

Minimum pricing travels back in time (again)

With minimum pricing introduced in Wales, someone in Scotland has taken another opportunity to make a silk purse from the SNP's pig's ear.

From STV:

The number of alcohol-related emergency hospital admissions has fallen by almost 6500 in the last 11 years, according to analysis.

Figures from the Scottish Parliament’s Information Centre show that such admissions have dropped by 16.2% from 39,857 in 2007/08 to 33,366 in 2018/19.

Great, but so what?

It comes after NHS research released in January showed that the volume of pure alcohol sold per person had dropped in Scotland since the introduction of minimum unit pricing.

It didn't come after the questionable sales claim. The hospital figures were published last November. So why are hearing about them now?

SNP MSP David Torrance said: “The SNP’s approach to tackling alcohol abuse in Scotland is working and the data suggests that minimum pricing is already saving people’s lives."

Minimum pricing was introduced in May 2018, so it is - to put it mildly - a stretch to give it credit for a decline in hospital admissions that took place between 2007/08 and 2018/19.

The only year in which minimum pricing could have possibly had an effect was 2018/19 but - guess what? - the number of alcohol-related hospital admissions rose in 2018/19 from 38,199 to 38,370. Alcohol Focus Scotland's Alison Douglas said at the time...

"It’s disappointing that the overall level of hospitalisations in 2018/19 has remained similar to the previous year."

But never mind, eh? Let's put out these four month old stats under headlines such as 'Drop in alcohol-related emergency hospital admissions' and 'Hospitals see fewer alcohol cases' and hope readers assume the present tense.

This has echoes of the BBC's shameful attempt to pretend that alcohol-related deaths were falling in Scotland last year (which it eventually corrected). The Beeb ludicrously suggested that a decline in deaths between 2006 and 2012 was somehow caused by minimum pricing.

Today's garbage was not only promoted by STV but by the Scotsman, Glasgow Live, and the Evening Express. All four articles are identical - word for word. Journalists are literally just copying out press releases from (I assume) the SNP.

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