Areas with many pubs have triple the alcohol deaths – Scottish study

  • Post category:World News
Scottish neighbourhoods that have large numbers of pubs and off-licences have nearly three times the number of alcohol-related deaths and illness, a major study has shown.

From The Irish Times

Off-licences cause the greatest number of problems, because of cheap drink, the large volumes that can be bought and the lack of control over underage drinkers.

The research, carried out by the universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, broke Scotland down into 6,500 districts ”” each of which has on average 11 pubs and five off-licences within 800 metres of locals.

Nearly 13,000 deaths in Scotland between 2002 and 2011 are directly caused by the deceased’s drinking habits ”” one in 20 of all deaths recorded and one of the worst rates in Europe.

The key findings are that neighbourhoods with the most outlets had nearly three times the number of alcohol-related deaths as those areas that had fewer places selling drink.

Each extra licence awarded to districts that already have large numbers of them can be directly linked to an increase in the number of alcohol-related deaths.

Hospitalisation rates for alcohol abuse were constant in neighbourhoods where there were up to six off-licences and nine pubs within a 10 minute walk of locals.

However, the number of A&E cases jumped sharply once that number of licences was exceeded, according to the report, ’Alcohol-related illness and death in Scottish neighbourhoods’.

Off-licences “have the greatest potential” to cause harm, according to the research, which was presented to an Alcohol Focus Scotland conference in Glasgow yesterday.

Less than 10 in every 100,000 people living in neighbourhoods which have between nine and 14 off-licences within 800 metres of locals are hospitalised every year for alcohol abuse.

However, the number jumped to nearly 80 per 100,000 in communities that have more than 17 per 100,000 ”” which cover large areas of some of the poorest areas in Scotland’s heavily-populate central belt.

Little attention has been paid up to now on the number of licences awarded to neighbourhoods, said Dr Elizabeth Richardson of the University of Edinburgh.

Reducing the number of outlets ”” particularly in the neighbourhoods that have the highest number of them ”” “could have health benefits for the Scottish population”, she said.

Dr Evelyn Gillan of Alcohol Focus Scotland said: “If we want fewer people to end up in hospital or lose their lives because of alcohol, then we have to be concerned about the high number of outlets.”

Licensing boards should take into the account the number of existing licences before they award more, she said. Last month, Dundee City Council decided that it would not issue any more permits.

High numbers of pub licences in city-centre districts encourage “harmful drinking episodes”, says the report, but an excess of off-licences spurs dangerous competition.

“Alcohol promotion tactics such as loss-leading and discounting (are) used to compete with other stores,” it said, while smaller shops bow to the temptation of selling single cans to street-drinkers.

Once certain thresholds are breached, the drinks market in a community “may become competitive enough to encourage significantly more harmful drinking episodes that result in hospitalisation” ends