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Monthly newsletter from Alcohol Focus Scotland
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eFocus March 2017
Consultation on cider duty - please respond
In its spring Budget, the government announced a consultation on introducing a new tax band to target cheap, high strength white ciders, below 7.5% abv. Currently, a lower alcohol cider pays the same amount of alcohol duty as a strong 7.5% abv cider. As members of the Alcohol Health Alliance, we have been highlighting the urgent need for increased duty on these products, given the significant health and social harm they cause. The consultation offers a real opportunity to deliver change and we would encourage you to respond to it (closing date 12 June 2017). Please let us know if you would like us to share our draft response with you, and please share with us any insights from practitioners or people with direct experience of the impact of these drinks.
Minimum pricing appeal
The UK Supreme Court will hear the Scotch Whisky Association's minimum pricing appeal on 24 and 25 July 2017. Since minimum pricing was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2012, it has been tested in Europe, and has twice been approved by the Scottish courts. This is the final stage in the legal process and a conclusive decision is expected in the autumn.
Local alcohol harm factsheets
AFS has published a series of local alcohol harm factsheets which summarise alcohol consumption, hospital admissions, deaths, child protection cases, licences and costs for each local authority area in Scotland. We are sharing these statistics with local election candidates to raise awareness of the impact of alcohol in their area and would welcome your help in disseminating through your networks. Visit the resources section of the AFS website and select 'Local alcohol harm factsheets' on the drop down menu.
Health inequalities persist in Scotland
Significant health inequalities persist for almost every indicator covered in the latest Long-term Monitoring of Health Inequalities report. For first alcohol-related hospital admission, the gap between the most and least deprived areas of Scotland (absolute inequality) has reduced by 43% since 1996. However, for relative inequalities - the extent to which health outcomes are worse in the most deprived areas compared with the Scottish average - inequalities in alcohol-related hospital admissions have declined over the long term but alcohol-related deaths are the same as in 1997.
Advice to producers on alcohol labelling
The Department of Health has set out the core elements that it "would wish to see communicated to the public" on alcohol labels. It says it has worked closely with industry on the guidance for labelling to better reflect the UK Chief Medical Officers low-risk drinking advice which was published last year. Some producers have already taken action, for example Tennent Caledonian announced that the weekly drinking guidelines will appear on 24 packs of Tennent's cans, however AFS believes that labelling should be mandatory not voluntary so consumers can make fully informed choices about drinking.
Call for lower drink-drive limit in England and Wales
The Local Government Association and all fire and rescue authorities in England and Wales are calling for the drink-drive limit to be reduced from 80mg to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. However, the Department of Transport declined to support a reduction in the limit, and said the emphasis should be on catching drunk-drivers. Scotland reduced the drink-drive limit in December 2014 and Northern Ireland will soon do the same. Read more
Evidence to Health and Sport Committee
AFS Chief Executive Alison Douglas gave evidence to the Health Committee's inquiry on healthcare in prisons. The Committee was told that alcohol misuse was significantly higher among prisoners than the general population but there was no systematic screening tool in place. This meant there was a lost opportunity to identify and support some of those experiencing the most severe health inequalities. Witnesses also said that alcohol was not regarded as such an immediate priority in prisons, compared to drugs, because of limited availability. However, alcohol often re-emerged as a significant problem for people on release. Alison highlighted concerns about reducing funding for alcohol/drug prevention, treatment and support services, and that recovery-oriented care may be put at risk by these cuts.
New mental health strategy published
The long-awaited Scottish Government mental health strategy has been published this week, but some mental health and children's charities are disappointed at its lack of detail and clear timescales for change. AFS welcomes the strategy's recognition that people with both alcohol and mental health problems may sometimes fall through the gaps so these services need to be better joined up, but we would like to have seen a stronger focus on preventing mental health problems through reduced alcohol consumption.
>   Adjustment for survey non-representativeness using record-linkage: refined estimates of alcohol consumption by deprivation in Scotland
Use of routinely collected health data to reduce bias arising from survey non-response resulted in higher alcohol consumption estimates among working age males in Scotland, with less impact for females. Read abstract

>   Alcohol mixed with energy drinks and risk of injury: a systematic review
Ten out of 13 studies included in a systematic review showed evidence of a link between the use of alcohol mixed with energy drinks and an increased risk of injury compared to drinking alcohol only. Read abstract

>   Return on investment of public health interventions: a systematic review
Local and national public health interventions are highly cost-saving, with a median return on investment of 14:1. Cuts to public health budgets therefore represent a false economy and are likely to generate billions of pounds of additional costs to the health service and wider economy. Read abstract
Alcohol Focus Scotland training courses
Personal Licence Holder (PLH) and Refresher course
>  20 April, Glasgow
AFS runs Scottish Certificate for Personal Licence Holder and Refresher courses once a month at our offices in Glasgow. Find out more about course dates, times and costs.

Licensing Standards Officers training
>  16, 17 and 18 May, Glasgow 
There are only a few places left on this course for Licensing Standards Officers. Please contact us to book your place.

Rory and Oh Lila training in Aberdeen
>  24 and 25 April, Aberdeen
These half day courses are aimed at nursery workers, early years practitioners and primary school teachers. Oh Lila and Rory are learning resources which practitioners can use to build resilience and social skills in children, including those affected by parental alcohol problems. Please contact us for more information.

Children Harmed by Alcohol Toolkit (CHAT) training in Glasgow
>  9 May, 23 May, 14 June, Glasgow
If you work in community justice settings in greater Glasgow and Clyde, why not come along to one of our funded training sessions? Places are limited so please contact us to sign up.

Alcohol and the workplace training 
>  Various dates and locations available
AFS offers bespoke training on managing alcohol and drug issues in the workplace. The course is a combination of online and face to face delivery and is suitable for anyone with a responsibility for supervising or managing staff. Find out more about our workplace training.
Alcohol Research UK annual conference
Alcohol Research UK's annual conference takes place on Wednesday 5 April in central London. 'Working together: people, practice and policy in alcohol research' provides a unique opportunity for researchers, practitioners, policy makers, charities and service delivery organisations to come together to explore co-production, collaboration and public involvement in alcohol research and practice.  
Alcohol workshops, seminars and conferences
Are you organising an alcohol-related workshop, seminar or conference? Please let us know and we can promote it here in eFocus and on the AFS website.
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