Marlyn Glen MSP

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Scottish Labour MSP for North East Scotland

Alcohol consumption : new figures show Scotland could be 10 per cent higher than previous official figures suggest

21 January 2010

Marlyn Glen has released new figures she has obtained from the Scottish Government that sales of pure alcohol per head in Scotland could be 1.6 litres higher – over 10 per cent higher – when those Scots who do not drink are excluded from the estimates.

Scottish Government official figures use the measure of the number of litres of alcohol per head of the population over 16. This is 11.8 litres.

However, this figure takes no account of the Scots who abstain from drink.

Official estimates put these at 10 per cent of men and 13 per cent of women.

When these abstainers are excluded, the figure for sales of pure alcohol rises to 13.4 litres, an increase of 1.6 litres per head above the official figure.

Ms. Glen said,

“These adjusted figures, discounting those who abstain from alcohol, show that the problem with alcohol in Scotland is bigger than the original official figures indicate.”

Commenting on the cost to the NHS in Dundee and Tayside of alcohol-related illness and behaviour, Ms. Glen said ,

“The misuse of alcohol in Dundee and the wider NHS Tayside area is drawing away millions of pounds every year from the NHS that could be spent on other health concerns.

“Ambulance incidents are estimated to account for £2.2 million a year.

“New Outpatient attendances are estimated to account for £1.2 million a year.

“Accident and Emergency attendances , are estimated to account for almost £1.9 million a year.

“Beds occupied by patients with alcohol-related conditions, are estimated to account for £7.6 million a year.”

On the debate over whether or not minimum pricing should be introduced, she said,

“The root problem of minimum pricing is that it unjustly penalises the sensible drinker.

“For some hard drinkers, any minimum price for alcohol would never be too high a price to pay.

“The most realistic road to success comes through educating some people how to drink moderately.

” Some need to learn from countries such as Italy on how people enjoy drinking responsibly, others need to learn from other Scots that drunkenness is neither glamorous nor fashionable nor “career-enhancing.”

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