It is becoming increasingly evident that as a nation our relationship with alcohol has become unbalanced.
Alcohol sales data suggests that consumption has increased by five per cent since 1994, with enough alcohol being sold for every adult in Scotland to drink over 20 units each and every week since at least 2000.
Almost a fifth more alcohol is sold per adult in Scotland than in England and Wales.
The impact of this excessive consumption is estimated to cost Scots £3.6 billion each year, that's equivalent to £900 for each and every adult in Scotland.
Hospital discharges have quadrupled since the early 1980s and alcohol-related deaths are 1.4 times higher.
The impact on crime and anti-social behaviour is equally stark, with statistics showing that 45 per cent of prisoners (including three quarters of young offenders) were drunk at the time of their offence.
What is clear is that bold action is required to help drive a long-term change in cultural attitudes towards alcohol.
Alcohol Framework for Action
The Alcohol Framework for Action, published March 2009, set out a strategic approach to tackling alcohol misuse in Scotland:
It contains a wide package of measures including education, diversionary activity, support for families and communities, and preventative public health measures such as alcohol brief interventions. Together with minimum unit pricing and other regulatory measures on issues such as irresponsible promotion of alcohol, we believe this wider package will help to create the cultural shift required to change our relationship with alcohol.
The Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012 was passed in June 2012 and will pave the way for the introduction of a preferred minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol: