The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE) is backing proposals outlined in the current Scottish Government consultation on alcohol marketing. The RCPE considers that the proposals offer, in particular, an opportunity to protect children from alcohol marketing and to support people in recovery from alcohol problems.  The College is also calling on clinicians and all those concerned about the negative impact of alcohol on population health to have their say by responding to the consultation before it closes on Thursday 9th March.

Commenting Professor Andrew Elder, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said:

It is clear that tackling alcohol harms remains a key public health challenge in Scotland and one which needs to be addressed on multiple levels. In 2020/21, there were 35,124 alcohol-related hospital stays in Scotland- something that places a very significant strain on acute health services- and 1245 alcohol-specific deaths were recorded in 2021 alone, an increase on 2020.

The proposals to restrict the marketing and advertising of alcohol are welcome and have the potential to play an important part in reducing alcohol related harms given the proven links between exposure to alcohol marketing and the initiation of drinking- among children and young people especially- and of increasing alcohol consumption and binge drinking. Restricting alcohol marketing may also help reduce the risk of relapse in those in recovery- this is an important consideration.

The opinions of the alcohol industry have often been expressed in this consultation period so far but it is vital that the voices of the health community and the wider public who have concerns about Scotland’s relationship with alcohol are also heard. Therefore I encourage clinicians and indeed all of those who want to reduce alcohol harm in Scotland to give their views in the consultation before it concludes.

Dr Alastair MacGilchrist, Chair of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP), said:

Every day in Scotland, almost 100 people are hospitalised and 3 people die because of alcohol. The pervasive and inescapable nature of alcohol marketing and promotion in Scottish society is contributing to the alcohol crisis we are facing.

It is well established that exposure to alcohol marketing directly influences how much and how often individuals consume alcohol. This is particularly problematic for vulnerable groups such as individuals in recovery and children. Exposure to alcohol marketing normalises the place of alcohol in our everyday lives and increases the risk of young people going on to develop a problematic relationship with alcohol later in life.

The Scottish Government must introduce a comprehensive package of restrictions on alcohol marketing across a variety of channels as a vital public health measure. The proposals set out in the Scottish Government consultation are a real opportunity for us to change the Scottish narrative around alcohol and to prioritise the welfare of our nation. We strongly encourage organisations and individuals to contribute to the consultation process and have their views on this heard.


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