Media release

NHS Health Scotland has today published the latest data on Scotland’s relationship with alcohol. The report, ‘Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland’s Alcohol Strategy: Monitoring Report 2018’ found that 10.2 litres of pure alcohol were sold per adult in Scotland, equivalent to 19.6 units per adult per week. This means that enough alcohol was sold last year in Scotland for every adult to exceed the weekly guideline by 40%, every week of the year.

This is causing significant harm to individuals and communities across Scotland. After a period of decline, rates of death entirely caused by alcohol have increased over the past four years, and it is now directly responsible for an average of 22 deaths and 697 admissions to hospital per week. People in our most deprived areas are experiencing the most harm. Rates of both alcohol-specific death and alcohol-related admissions are more than eight times higher than in the least deprived areas.

The report also highlights that 2017 saw the biggest annual increase in the price of alcohol sold through supermarkets and off-licences, from 52 to 54 pence per unit. This corresponds with a fall in the percentage of alcohol sold at below 50 pence per unit by these retailers (from 51% to 47%).

Lucie Giles, lead author of the report and Public Health Intelligence Adviser at NHS Health Scotland said: 

“As a leading cause of illness and early death, alcohol consumption and related harm remains a significant public health concern.     

“With rates of alcohol-specific deaths increasing in recent years, and alcohol related hospital admissions 4 times higher than they were in the 1980s, it is more important than ever that we continue to monitor alcohol price, consumption and alcohol-related harms to inform and evaluate policy.

“Preventative action is necessary to reduce alcohol consumption if long-term improvements in alcohol-related harm are to be realised. And with the most harm being felt in our poorest areas, we must take action to reduce the health inequalities related to alcohol.”

For press enquiries please contact the Communications and Engagement team on 07500 854574 or email nhs.HealthScotland-Communications@nhs.net.