Glasgow Evening Times (Scotland) – Time to call time on our drink culture

  • Post category:World News

A hard-hitting report from a team of experts lists 63 recommendations which they believe will improve both the health of its citizens and its image.

Its findings and recommendations have won the backing of Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon and Strathclyde Chief Constable Steve House.

Today members of Glasgow’s licensing board were presented with the findings of the report as they drew up a set of new alcohol policies.

While the report acknowledges pubs and clubs contribute to Glasgow’s reputation as a vibrant city, it adds: “There is no getting away from the long-established fact Glasgow has a deeply unhealthy relationship with alcohol – but we are not powerless to act.

“If the recommendations in this report are acted on, they will make a contribution towards a healthier Glasgow.”

The report says the statistics on alcohol-related ill health and crime are appalling.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon backed the report. She said: “I am very clear – and this view is shared by health professionals and the police – that it is time for Scotland to call time on its unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

“That is why we are proposing decisive action in the Alcohol Bill, which is currently making its way though the Scottish Parliament.”

And Linda de Caestecker, director of public health at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, echoed her comments.

She said: “The licensing board has a really important role in looking at how we have a healthier relationship with alcohol.

“The important thing about this report is that it is based on evidence from research and has also involved a wide number of stakeholders and local communities.

“I believe the recommendations could potentially make a difference to how we in Glasgow drink but it is not enough.

“We also need to look at minimum pricing, which I strongly support and work with individuals to motivate them to change their behaviour round alcohol.”

According to experts, alcohol consumption and its damaging effects have increased in Glasgow since the early 1990s.

The main reasons are a combination of cheaper prices and an acceptance of drinking to excess.

The report says: “Evidence shows more action needs to be taken in areas such as availability, price and access to alcohol.

“The problem for Glasgow is many people are drinking beyond safe limits so the risks to health are spread much more widely than people might think.”

Mr House has previously called for minimum pricing. He said: “My officers see the devastation caused by cheap, strong alcohol each and every day.

“They see people left shattered by violence, towns and cities blighted by fear and young people making foolish, drink-fuelled choices that will change their lives forever.

“Our jails, prisons and hospital wards are testament to this and it is time for it to change.

Evelyn Gillan, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: “What Glasgow is doing is quite innovative as it is really trying to give the licensing board as much information as possible about the impact their decisions are going to have on health.

“We cannot let things stand as they are because we have too many people dying already.

“We have to be particularly aware of the impact of off-sales and in particular supermarkets because 80% of the alcohol bought in off-sales is bought in supermarkets.”

The working group believes its recommendations will help tackle some of the many problems associated with the city’s culture around alcohol.

They say: “We believe all of them are practical and that all of them can help to protect and improve health.”

The recommendations include continuing the ban on 24-hour licenses and preventing any “creep” towards later opening.

Pubs which open in the early morning should only be allowed to serve booze with a substantial breakfast and leaflets about daily recommended limits should be available in all premises.

Members of the working group will also ask the Licensing Boar to rule that alcohol unit information should be visible on all drinks.

The working group says all pubs which admit children should have play areas or adequate entertainment, and food should be healthy.

Changing facilities and children’s toilets should be provided and youngsters should not be allowed in pubs after 8pm unless they are in a restaurant or attending a function such as a wedding, when a 10pm ban would be in place. The report says: “This is decidedly not a prohibitionist manifesto as alcohol is part of our culture and the licensed trade is part of our economy.

“But we cannot let things carry on the way they are as our city’s relationship with alcohol has veered out of control.

“The good news is that the licensing board has powers which can limit or reserve the harm associated with excess alcohol consumption.”

Licensing board chairman Stephen Dornan added: “The board is looking very carefully at all the recommendations made in this report as we move towards drafting the second edition of our policy statement.”


Source: Glasgow Evening Times (Scotland), 16/08/10