Monthly newsletter from Alcohol Focus Scotland

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eFocus - January 2016

New alcohol guidelines published

Following a two year expert review of the scientific evidence, the UK Chief Medical Officers have published updated alcohol consumption guidelines. Their guidance makes it clear that there is no completely 'safe' level of alcohol consumption, since cancer risk increases even at low levels of consumption. There is also no justification for recommending drinking on health grounds as previous evidence is likely to have over-estimated the protective effects of alcohol for the heart.

To keep health risks to a low level, both men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units per week. Drinking should be spread over three days or more, and having several alcohol-free days a week is a good way to cut down. The 'no alcohol in pregnancy' message is now consistent across the UK - previously only Scotland advised that avoiding alcohol when pregnant or trying to conceive is the safest choice.

AFS is one of many alcohol and public health groups calling for consumers to be better informed through compulsory health warning labels and a public information campaign. Read more

Report summary and consultation


Alcohol fuels ambulance assaults
The Scottish Ambulance Service, in partnership with Alcohol Focus Scotland, conducted a survey of frontline ambulance crews and 999 call handlers to show the effect that alcohol has on the service. More than 600 staff responded, with two thirds of them (62%) saying that they have been physically assaulted by members of the public who have had too much to drink. Staff said that more than half of callouts they deal with at weekends are alcohol-related. The survey was published just before Christmas, during one of the busiest weeks of the year for the NHS and emergency services. Read more

Mel McDevitt is a paramedic in Glasgow - hear how alcohol impacts on her job.

Problem drinkers account for majority of alcohol industry sales
The alcohol industry makes most of its money - an estimated £23.7bn in alcohol sales in England alone - from people whose drinking is destroying or risking their health. Professor Nick Sheron of Southampton University, has established that 69% of the total alcohol consumed according to the Health Survey for England was by hazardous and harmful drinkers. Read more
Scotland's drink-drive hotspots revealed
Airdrie, Livingston and Motherwell are the Scottish towns with the most motorists disqualified for drink driving, according to DVLA figures. The figures showed 21,573 drivers in Scotland have been banned from driving since 2011 - an average of nearly 12 per day. Read more Meanwhile, a lower drink drive limit is a step closer in England and Wales with the progression of a private member's bill in the House of Lords.
Irish schools to ban drinks industry education material
All schools in Ireland are to receive a directive from the Department of Education asking them not to engage with any educational material developed by the drinks industry. The alcohol industry-funded group Drinkaware has developed teaching materials for teachers and youth workers, but following a meeting with the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and the Alcohol Health Alliance group, the Minister for Education will ask schools not to engage with or promote any such material. Read more
Drink Wise, Age Well report
Drink Wise, Age Well: Alcohol Use and the over 50s in the UK is the first report from the Drink Wise, Age Well programme which is based in five demonstration areas across the UK, including Glasgow. The report provides an overview of alcohol and ageing today, how much and why older adults drink, and why we need to act.

Minimum pricing court case

In December, the European Court of Justice confirmed that it is for the Scottish court to decide if minimum unit pricing is more effective than other pricing policies to tackle alcohol harm. The Court of Session in Edinburgh held a procedural hearing on 28 January and agreed to hear further evidence, with a final hearing provisionally scheduled for June. AFS and SHAAP said: "We are pleased the Court of Session is seeking further evidence. We remain confident that the case for minimum unit pricing will be conclusive and look forward to this much-needed policy finally being implemented."

Lobbying Bill passes stage 1
The Scottish Parliament agreed to the general principles of the Lobbying (Scotland) Bill at the stage 1 debate. The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee recommended that the provisions of the Bill be strengthened to ensure greater transparency and we hope these can be considered at stage 2. The Scottish Alliance for Lobbying Transparency (SALT) has published 5 myths busted about the Bill.

Latest research

Adolescents' exposure to tobacco and alcohol content in You Tube music videos

How does the alcohol industry influence marketing regulations? A systematic review

Health information on alcoholic beverage containers: has the alcohol industry's pledge in England to improve labelling been met?


Licensing training courses

Personal Licence Holder and Refresher training courses are running monthly at our offices in Glasgow, with the next courses taking place on Tuesday 16 February. We are also running a course for Licensing Standards Officers from 15-17 March. More information and booking

C.H.A.T. - Children Harmed by Alcohol Toolkit
AFS' new C.H.A.T. toolkit is to be piloted within criminal justice settings in the Glasgow area. Funded by NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, the resource pack and training will be used by police, prison staff and voluntary agencies working with children and families affected by imprisonment and in wider criminal justice settings. The 3 month pilot will be independently evaluated to assess impact.

Alcohol occasional seminars

SHAAP and SARN are running a series of lunchtime seminars on the theme 'Alcohol, Europe and the world'. The next seminar will take place on Thursday 4 February at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh. Dr Richard Cooke will present the CALIBRATE project, the European survey of University student alcohol use. More information

Alcohol Research UK annual conference
16 March 2016, The REP, Birmingham
Critical measures: Next steps in alcohol research and policy. This conference will present new evidence on patterns of alcohol use across the UK, alcohol risks and harm, developing interventions, and reflections on the relationship between alcohol research and evidence-informed policy. More information

NDSAG annual conference
21-24 April 2016, Bradford
The New Directions in the Study of Alcohol Group (NDSAG) conference will include one day symposiums covering current research and practice in the field of alcohol interventions. More information

Alcohol Focus Scotland
166 Buchanan St, Glasgow G1 2LW
tel: 0141 572 6700
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