Treating Alcohol like Milk and Bread

With the new Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) policy on alcohol just started at the beginning of May, an alliance of medical and clinical advisers now say that MUP is only part of the overall solution to Scotland's relationship with alcohol, which is a key factor in nearly 4,000 deaths per year.

This group which includes Scottish Health Action of Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) now suggests that further restrictions on shopping hours for alcohol could further reduce impulse buying and harmful levels of consumption.

Peter Rice, chairman at SHAAP said “Our Scottish restrictions are not tough enough as there is clear evidence of a large volume of alcohol sales between 8pm and 10pm on both Fridays and Saturdays. This suggests that people are not planning drinking, but are drinking on impulse or out of habit, especially during these relatively short periods of time in the weekend evenings.”

Rice continued “In Sweden, shops usually stop selling alcohol at 6pm and the Scandinavian countries in general have some of the lowest rates of alcohol harm and liver disease in the world. Also, alcohol is not sold in grocery shops, but from separate 'alcohol' shops which are run by the government, and people seem to like that.”

With the drinking culture in Scotland moving away from pubs and clubs to the home in the past 20 years, buying alcohol from the supermarket is a common occurrence, but Peter Rice added “We should not be treating alcohol in the same way as we treat milk and bread and baked beans.”

Jim Bett, Service Manager at Fife Alcohol Support Service (FASS) added that “Creating a separate checkout in supermarkets purely for alcohol sales would make a very obvious distinction between licensed and unlicensed products, and perhaps there should also be ban on all alcohol discounts.”

When approached, the Scottish government said it welcomed these recommendations, which would be considered in the context of its alcohol framework plans.

Jim Bett reminded us that FASS operates throughout Fife offering a free and confidential counselling service which can assist the individual to reduce or eliminate the harmful effects of alcohol, and FASS has a very positive proven record in this field. He concluded “You only have to dial 01592-206200 and this action can really make a difference!”