New report compares alcohol problems and welcomes policy responses in Scotland and Ireland

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A new report from SHAAP (Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems), Alcohol Policy in Scotland and Ireland: European Trailblazers or Celtic Fringes?, compares alcohol-related problems and welcomes innovative policy responses in Ireland and Scotland, also recognising the need to work at a pan-European level.

Governments in Scotland and Ireland are pushing forward evidence-based public health policies that will be most effective in saving lives and reducing alcohol harm, including tackling the cost of the very cheapest alcohol in the off-trade, reducing availability and exposure to alcohol marketing.

The Scottish Alcohol Strategy, ’Changing Scotland’s Relationship with Alcohol” is currently being reviewed. Health bodies are hoping that implementation of the Scottish Government’s Minimum Unit pricing legislation, delayed due to industry legal challenges, will follow swiftly after the Court of Session delivers its final ruling on the matter, expected within the next few weeks.

The new Irish Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which includes Minimum Unit Pricing and is wide ranging in its provisions related to marketing and availability, is also facing strong opposition from global alcohol producers.

Eric Carlin, Director of SHAAP, said,

Among the many things that we share with our Irish neighbours is a regrettable and avoidable toll of early deaths and wasted lives, due to alcohol consumption. This report discusses these challenges. In Scotland, we have made progress in recent years, though the statistics are getting worse again. We still have twenty-two deaths a week due to alcohol. In Ireland, one in four deaths in young men aged 15-39 is due to alcohol. It is vital that we work at home and with Irish and other European colleagues to challenge business practices that ruin so many people’s lives and communities.

Suzanne Costello, Chief Executive of Alcohol Action Ireland, said:

Ireland and Scotland don’t just share similarities in relation to the extent of our significant problems with alcohol misuse, but also our determination to address these problems. The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill is the first step in Ireland to implement evidence-base policies that will save lives and reduce the huge burden of alcohol harm. It is crucial for the health and wellbeing of our nation that our Government, and all our Oireachtas members, support it and ensure its swift implementation.

Mariann Skar, Secretary General of Eurocare (European Alcohol Policy Alliance), said:

  We welcome this report. Alcohol is the third   top risk factor in Europe for ill health and non-communicable diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. This affects people who drink, as well as families and communities. It is vitally important that governments, such as those in Scotland and Ireland, prioritise public health measures, including action to increase the price to limit marketing of alcohol to reduce the harm to individuals, families and communities.The European Union continues to have an important role in promoting best practice and sharing research across member states on effective policies and practice.


Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) provides the authoritative medical and clinical voice on the need  to reduce the impact of alcohol related harm on the health and wellbeing of  people in Scotland and the evidence-based approaches to achieve this. As a partnership, it  is governed by a Steering Group made up of members of the medical Royal  Colleges and Faculties in Scotland.