Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Alcohol consumption is at a historic low, temperance lobby demands action

Public Health Scotland has just published the alcohol consumption stats for 2021. With the country in lockdown for much of the year, consumption remained unusually low, but it was not zero and therefore 
not low enough for the temperance lobby.
From the Scotsman...
Scots still drinking too much as drop in alcohol intake stalls

ALCOHOL consumption in Scotland remains too high, amid calls to increase the minimum unit price. 
Minimum pricing doesn't work. The evidence is in. Give it up.
An average adult in Scotland drank the equivalent of around two bottles of wine per week in 2021, based on estimates from alcohol retail sales.

Consumption also appears to have stalled after previously falling to a historic low.

Consumption fell in 2020 because people were locked down and the hospitality industry was closed for months. The same thing happened in most countries. It remained unusually low in 2021 for the same reason. It was never going to keep going down and it is very likely to rise in 2022.

The real question is whether alcohol-related deaths also fell to a 'historic low'. Reader, they did not. In 2020, they stood at a nine year high in Scotland. So much for the Scottish government's 'whole population approach' and the ludicrous 'single distribution theory' which dictates that "we can reduce alcohol related harm through efforts directed towards reducing the mean consumption in the population, because this will also reduce drinking among the heaviest drinkers and by extension rates of harm."

In 2020, purchase data indicated that 9.4 litres of pure alcohol - or 18.1 units - was sold per adult per week in Scotland, the lowest level since current records began in 1994. This remained the same in 2021. 

However, adults are advised not to exceed 14 units.

The 14 unit guideline is based on no evidence and was arrived at through a process that was frankly corrupt.

In 2021, off-trade premises such as supermarkets and other off-licences, accounted for 85% of all the alcohol purchased in Scotland, compared to 73% in 2019 and 90% in 2020.

If you close the on-trade for five months, that's what's going to happen.

It comes after a study published last week revealed that there was "no clear evidence" that minimum unit pricing, introduced in Scotland in May 2018, had reduced alcohol intake amongst the most harmful drinkers, with evidence that they had cut back on food and heating instead to cope with the increased cost.

Indeed it did. This is an important which Scotland's state-funded temperance groups are doing their best to ignore.

Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said it was "encouraging" to see the decrease in drinking from 2020 sustained, but called on ministers to "optimise" minimum pricing by increasing it "at least in line with inflation". Campaigners have pushed for a hike from 50 to 65 pence per unit.

Ms Douglas added: "Alongside this we need restrictions on the aggressive marketing of alcohol and to reduce how easily available it is in our communities. 

In this racket there is zero accountability. Minimum pricing has failed and there is no good evidence to suggest that restricting alcohol advertising will work. Alcohol consumption is at the lowest level on record, but that hasn't helped anything. The people at Alcohol Focus Scotland should be stripped of their public funding, if not tarred and feathered. Instead, they are doubling down on minimum pricing and setting their sights on another futile policy.

In a sane world, the Scottish government would tell them to shove off.

Public Health Minister Maree Todd said: "Work on reviewing the level of minimum unit pricing is underway and we will be consulting on potential restrictions on alcohol advertising later this year."

Of course they are.

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