There is no doubt a number of Scots experience a turbulent relationship with alcohol – but is greater restriction on its availability an answer?
Most recent figures indicate an average of 22 people per week in Scotland die due to an alcohol-related issue. Meanwhile, the volume of pure alcohol sold per adult in Scotland is 9% higher than in England and Wales and more than 23,000 people in Scotland were admitted to hospital with an alcohol-related issue in 2018 and 2019 alone.
A study pioneered by the Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems highlighted concerns related to physical and mental impact of alcohol-related use, as well as drawing attention to the changing behaviour around alcohol use during lockdown.
Last Wednesday, I was invited on to John Beattie’s BBC Radio Scotland show along with Dr Peter Rice, one of architects of Scotland’s minimum unit pricing.
Dr Rice supports a reduction in the availability of alcohol and bans on advertising, sponsorship and promotion.
I am open to persuasion but I remain unconvinced of the strength of the argument that legislation or alterations to marketing offer a route to resolution.
Legislation is a very blunt instrument and, I fear, does not address the underlying causes of alcohol misuse, which are increasingly complex and wide-ranging.