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Changing Scotland's Relationship with Alcohol: A Framework for Action

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SUMMARY

1. This Framework sets out our strategic approach to tackling alcohol misuse in Scotland. It explains the need for action in order to help deliver Government's Purpose and outlines how we intend to take forward the proposals contained in our discussion paper "Changing Scotland's Relationship with Alcohol" following the outcome of our public consultation in 2008, a summary of which is contained in Annex A to this document.

2. As our discussion paper made clear, this Government is not anti-alcohol; we are anti- alcohol misuse. But the extent of alcohol misuse in Scotland and its impact on us all mean that the need for a new approach is overwhelming. Significant increases in the affordability of alcohol - alcohol is now 70% more affordable than in 1980 1 - have helped drive an increase in consumption of 19% over the same period 2. This in turn has fuelled significant increases in deaths and illness. 3

3. The Government is already taking action on a number of fronts which will contribute to addressing the underlying causes of, and dealing with the negative impacts resulting from, Scotland's complex relationship with alcohol. These include the Government's Economic Strategy and our joint work with local government to improve early years and early intervention and to address health inequalities. Through this work and through direct interventions focused on alcohol use, we are convinced of the need to take action to re-balance Scotland's relationship with alcohol if we are to maximise our potential as individuals, families, communities, and as a country.

4. We are committed to taking action now through legislative change and a record investment in prevention treatment and services, as well as building an environment that supports culture change in the longer term. We recognise that we cannot achieve this alone and that we must work with a wide range of partners. Crucially, we must encourage individuals to reflect on their drinking and how it impacts on themselves and others.

5. But Government has a key leadership role and we are determined to rise to the challenge. Based on knowledge and understanding of alcohol misuse, its drivers, and evidence-based interventions, our Framework for Action identifies the need for sustained action in four areas:

  • reduced alcohol consumption;
  • supporting families and communities;
  • positive public attitudes, positive choices;
  • improved treatment and support.

6. The Framework outlines a package of measures which can together reduce alcohol-related harm and contribute to a successful and flourishing Scotland. Each section outlines actions already underway, existing and new commitments. The way forward has been informed and shaped by the consultation responses, an analysis of which has been undertaken by independent consultants and is published at the same time as this Framework. In relation to our consultation proposals specifically we intend to:

  • bring forward regulations to end irresponsible promotions and below-cost selling of alcoholic drinks in licensed premises (paras 31-35);
  • pursue the establishment of a minimum price per unit of alcohol through regulation (paras 36-44);
  • review advice to parents and carers (paras 49-50);
  • place a duty on Licensing Boards to consider raising the age for off-sales purchases to 21 in part or all of their Board area and provide powers for Chief Constables and Licensing Forum to request a review of their local Board's policy (paras 51-55);
  • establish a legislative power to apply a social responsibility fee on some alcohol retailers (paras 56-59);
  • bring forward regulations to restrict the use of marketing material or activity on licensed premises (paras 94-101).

We do not intend to pursue separate supermarket checkouts for alcohol sales, or raise the age for those staffing such checkouts, at the present time.

A full list of our commitments is attached at Annex C.