Confronting alcohol issues in the UK

Following up of earlier reports, the governments of the UK are set to implement minimum pricing policies for alcohol in supermarkets and off-licenses. Alongside these regulations there shall be studies conducted to measure the effectiveness of these policies.Currently, the media is filling our newspapers and TV screens with the unacceptable face of excess drinking in the UK. We are perpetually seeing videos and graphic pictures gracing our morning papers telling horror stories of irresponsible drinking in the UK and how we are almost considered the drunken man of Europe. With Alcohol Awareness Week just behind us, activists are working harder to create campaigns to confront the problems to make people aware of the issues, enhance treatment and change laws. But is the Government really taking it seriously? Apparently laws around drinking, and alcohol access will be coming in across the UK soon.


Minimum Alcohol pricing study

In Life Works Blog on November 23rd we reported the fact that the Scottish government had in fact made clear moves to reduce the accessibility of alcohol in an attempt to reduce excessive drinking and ultimately drink related issues in society. There were mixed reviews as some felt the idea of a minimum price for alcohol was punishing everyone – especially the majority who never abuse drink. It is obvious that in order to determine whether these restrictions are working, they need to be tracked and analysed. So it was welcoming news this week that the Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh will be carrying out a three year study into the impact of minimum alcohol pricing on Scotland's heaviest drinkers.

Funded by the Chief Scientist Office and the Charity Alcohol Research UK, the study will focus on 500 of the hardest to reach severe drinkers. Professor Jonathan chick who is leading the study said: “Our research will look at the factors which influence the habits of severe drinkers before, and after the introduction of minimum unit pricing. We will also look at whether they turn to sourcing drink from outside Scotland, or begin to consume illicit or substitute alcohol or other intoxicants." The study will be conducted in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Alcohol cost changes in England and Wales

Following quickly on the heels of the minimum pricing ban in Scotland, a minimum cost bar will be introduced to England and Wales in April 2012. Shops and bars will not be able to sell drinks for less than the tax paid on them. It works out as 38p for a can of weak lager and £10.71 for a litre of vodka. Again this has been met with mixed reviews. Most feel it will be useful but it will only tend to affect drinkers at the extreme end of the market. A spokesman for Alcohol Concern stated: “The new provision must be welcomed, as it will hopefully make some difference at the very extreme cheap end of the market favoured by street drinkers and the young.”

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