Welcome to SHAAP’s (Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems) weekly media monitoring service.

April 8th 2015


View this email in your browser
This briefing aims to provide a ‘snap shot’ of latest news on alcohol and health policy. The inclusion of an article in the briefing should not imply that SHAAP approves or condones the content.

SHAAP provides a coordinated, coherent and authoritative medical and clinical voice on the need to reduce the impact of alcohol related harm on the health and wellbeing of the people in Scotland. SHAAP was set up by the Scottish Medical Royal Colleges, through their Scottish Intercollegiate Group (SIGA) and is governed by an Executive Committee made up of members of the Royal Colleges.


Ryanair bans alcohol on flights from Glasgow Prestwick airport to Ibiza over 'drunk' passengers causing disruptions

Independant - April 7th

Ryanair is banning alcohol on flights from a Glasgow airport to Ibiza after passengers were reportedly filmed swearing and chanting on board one of their planes.

The ban on alcohol is limited only to flights between Glasgow and Ibiza.

A notice from Ryanair bosses listed new restrictions for the passengers flying between the airport and the party resort.

The notice, which was seen by The Record, reportedly states: “Any alcohol purchased in airport shops or elsewhere must be packed in a suitable item of baggage, which will be tagged and placed in the aircraft hold free of charge.

“Customers attempting to conceal alcohol will be denied travel without refund or compensation.”

A video emerged in September showing apparently drunk passengers chanting, swearing and stamping their feet.

In 2013, a Ryanair flight had to be diverted to France in September amid reports a group became disruptive on board. French media claimed the group had drunk copious amounts of duty free alcohol on board.

A spokesperson for Ryanair said in a statement: "Having consulted with our customers and the airport, passengers flying from Glasgow Prestwick to Ibiza will no longer be permitted to bring duty free alcohol on board the aircraft.

"Those who have purchased duty free alcohol will be asked to either place their purchases in their cabin baggage and into the hold at the boarding gate, or leave their purchases behind.

"The comfort and safety of our customers and crew is our number one priority and we will not tolerate unruly behaviour at any time."

Should I let my children try alcohol?

Guardian - April 5th

How can you get your children to drink sensibly? Not, said Sir Liam Donaldson, the former chief medical officer for England, by giving them sips of alcohol. In 2009, he said that children should be alcohol-free until 15 years old. “But what about the French?” we asked. Their children often sip wine with their parents from the age of 12. It seems intuitive to introduce alcohol to children safely, in the context of a family meal. So how annoying that there’s no evidence to support this. If anything, research suggests that the earlier children are introduced to alcohol, the more likely they are to get a taste for it and drink heavily as young adults.
This week, a study from the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University in the US found that children who started sipping alcohol at the age of 11 were four times more likely to binge-drink, or have been drunk during high school, than those who hadn’t tried alcohol at that age. The study surveyed 561 Rhode Island middle school children over three years and found that at the age of 11, about 30% had sipped alcohol, mostly from their parents’ glasses. The authors took into account parents’ drinking, any history of alcoholism and the child’s ratings for risk-taking behaviour. They emphasised that their study did not prove early sipping led to binge drinking, but said that parents who allow sipping of alcohol may send mixed messages.
A Dutch study of 428 families with children between the ages of 13 and 15 found the more children drank at home with parents, the more they drank outside the home, and the more likely they were to report alcohol problems two years later. So should we try to keep our kids alcohol-free until they are 15?

The solution

When France starts getting twitchy about children drinking alcohol, then surely it is time to take note. Bertrand Nalpas, who heads the alcohol and addiction office at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, has been quoted as saying that French teens are drinking more heavily – with one in five 17-year-olds drunk at least three times a month.
Social learning theory would suggest that children are influenced by how parents drink, so light drinking with meals should promote low-risk consumption. But there is no evidence that this works. Indeed, some research suggests that parental disapproval reduces alcohol consumption. Children will, of course, be influenced by their peers and by how much their activities are monitored. They are likely to try alcohol. But allowing sips or half a glass at home under the age of 15 doesn’t seem to protect them – and may even have the opposite effect.

Alcohol in Indonesia - Mini-markets prepare to go dry as beer sales are banned

The Economist - April 6th

FOR locals seeking refreshment on the hot, grimy streets of Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, or for tourists lazing on the beaches of Bali, a chilled brew will soon be harder to come by. The country is on a moral campaign to protect its young from the dangers of alcohol. This month it will ban the sale of beer and other drinks with an alcohol content of less than 5% at more than 10,000 small retailers across the sprawling archipelago, while only supermarkets will be allowed to stock spirits. The aim of the regulation is to “protect the morals and culture of society”. Beer-drinking has grown by half in the past decade.

The government of President Joko Widodo (who is known as Jokowi) took the bold measure without consulting foreign brewers with a large Indonesian market, including Britain’s Diageo, Carlsberg of Denmark and Heineken, a Dutch brewer. Though public drinking is prohibited in Indonesia, in practice local governments have been given leeway in selling alcoholic drinks. Beer sales at convenience stores are already banned in some Indonesian districts that adopt milder aspects of Islamic sharia law. But retailers fret that the opaque phrasing of the new law could mean wholesalers are affected as well; that would wipe out more than half of the country’s distribution chain. Indonesia’s thriving tourism sector could suffer. Some people say that bootlegging will increase.

The clampdown underscores a growing social conservatism in the world's most populous Muslim nation. When he entered office in October, Jokowi, though an observant Muslim, was welcomed as a president willing take risks for a more secular, pluralistic Indonesia. Yet his approach to dealing with social ills has so far been tough. Notably, he has ignored governments’ pleas for clemency for Australian, Brazilian and French drug mules facing execution.

Retail and brewer groups are now pressing the government to reconsider its beer ban and to allow a one-year period for consultations. They too may find Jokowi to be a dogged president.

‘Alcohol ASBOs’ bill would see drunks barred from pubs and clubs

Scottish Legal News - April 7th

Antisocial drunks could be handed “alcohol ASBOs” barring them from pubs and clubs under new alcohol legislation proposed at Holyrood.

The largest members’ bill ever seen in the Scottish parliament provides for “drinking banning orders” (DBO) which would run for up to two years and which local authorities or the police can apply for, even if no criminal offence has been committed.

They could even be handed to under-18s if the courts think a person’s conduct puts others at risk.

The bill has been proposed by Dr Richard Simpson, Labour’s public health spokesman and also suggests laws to ensure GPs are informed by the courts when a person over 16 has been convicted of an alcohol-related offence.

However, lawyers have said the plans could infringe civil liberties and may also be impractical.

A licensing law expert said preventing those of a criminal disposition from obtaining alcohol was “the Holy Grail of licensing policy” but that the plans were “virtually unworkable”.

However, Dr Simpson said: “With Scotland’s alcohol consumption per head among highest in the world, we cannot afford to wait any longer on this issue.

“It will be a positive contribution to Scotland’s culture and a reduction in alcohol consumption, when these fair, workable and effective measures are implemented in to law.”

Advocate Niall McCluskey questioned parts of the proposals.

He said: “Informing a GP is a total departure in law. Why should a GP be made aware of a DBO upon conviction?

“It seems much of this type of legislation, preventing access to alcohol, is a sop to not providing sufficient resources to deal with the associated problems.

“Also, how do we define disorderly conduct? This also raises the prospect of people committing a crime for breaching a DBO when no law was broken when it was handed out in the first place.”

A liquor law expert added: “Steps to prevent those subject to a DBO from entering pubs and clubs just ignores other sources from which they might obtain alcohol.

“Cutting off that access, no matter how desirable, is just hopeless.”

Another bill with a proposal described as unworkable would see pubs, supermarkets and clubs wishing to sell alcohol proving they can reduce their customers’ intake.

The plans would see local authorities forced to block bids by businesses for licenses where they are unable to prove they would attempt to reduce customers’ consumption of alcohol.

However, the proposal, contained in the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill has been described as unworkable given as businesses have no control over customers’ consumption habits.

One prominent figure in the licensed trade said: “How do licensing boards reduce consumption? They simply can’t.

“If you want to deal with over-consumption you deal with the over-consumers and those who allowed them to over-consume.

“But you can’t regulate the amount of alcohol people buy for domestic consumption nor the amount they drink in their homes.”

New ‘vaporised alcohol’ fad comes under attack

Edinburgh Evening News - April 4th

The touring bar Vapbar, which is run by ClubCandi, uses a machine to turn alcohol into a vapour, which is then inhaled with a straw by revellers.

However, health experts have warned that bypassing the digestive system can potentially cause dangerous levels of intoxication – the technique causes alcohol to be ingested directly to the bloodstream through the lungs.

The American parent company behind the trend, Vapshot, also boasts that each shot contains just two calories and markets the new drinking craze towards young women.

Dr Niall Campbell, consultant psychiatrist at the Priory Hospital in London, which treats patients with both alcohol addiction and eating disorders, has labelled the craze as “worrying” and added that it was important young women were not encouraged to consume alcohol by low-calorie advertising around alcohol products.

“The risk is that women who are dieting will spend money on alcohol and not on food, and there is then a risk that they will become vitamin deficient and they will get brain damage. We don’t need to encourage women to drink any more,” he said.

“Not only could there be a risk of damage to your lungs, but there could also a risk to the brain from high and rapid concentrations of alcohol causing acute intoxication.

Alcohol Focus Scotland acting deputy chief executive Jennifer Curran said: “This latest fad is just another cynical way that alcohol companies are marketing their product to young people.”

However, ClubCandi’s Michael Young has defended the practice and has spoken of bringing this new approach to alcohol to venues all over the country.

He said: “We wholeheartedly believe in the product and have done extensive research on the effects of vapour and found it to be extremely positive.

“We look to give our customers the best experience possible, and feedback from our patrons has been immensely positive to say the least.”

Teen Binge Drinking Can Lead To Brain Changes, Making Alcohol Abuse More Likely In Adulthood

Medical Daily - April 4th

A new study published in the journal Neurobiology of Disease found adolescent binge drinking could disrupt gene regulation and brain development, causing anxiety and alcohol abuse into adulthood.

The present research was conducted on adolescent rats. To mimic human binge drinking patterns, researchers gave rats alcohol for two straight days, didn’t give them any for two days (only water), and repeated this pattern for a total of 13 days. Some of the rats were studied after the 13 days, but given a choice between alcohol and water in order to measure for new, abnormal behaviors.

The results showed rats were affected by alcohol into adulthood even after the initial study. They experienced anxiety-like behaviors and drank more alcohol than water. These changes, researchers found, stem from the brain’s amygdala.

When the amygdala was analyzed in alcohol-drinking rats, DNA and histone proteins were tightly wrapped. There were also increased levels of a protein called HDAC2, which is thought to trigger DNA to wrap tighter around histones.

“Genes that lie within DNA that is tightly wrapped around the histones are less active than they are if the DNA is loosely wrapped,” said Dr. Subhash C. Pandey, lead researcher and director of neuroscience alcoholism research at the University of Illinois at Chicago, in a press release. “The looser the DNA is coiled, the more accessible are the genes to the cellular machinery that makes relevant proteins.”

Pandey added these epigenetic changes were linked to two specific genes: the brain-derived neurotrophic factor and activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated proteins. Nerve cells need these to form new connections. And to support their hypothesis further, Pandey and his team administered a drug that blacks HDAC2 in rats and loosens the coiling of DNA. The rats receiving this drug then exhibited less anxiety and reduced alcohol intake.

From here, researchers plan to conduct further research on other epigenetic drugs in order to see if they can reverse the harmful effects of adolescent alcohol exposure.

It’s not the first time science has considered the amygdala in terms of binge drinking. Researchers from the University of North Carolina found producing a natural brain protein neuropeptide in this part of the brain could suppress binge-drinking behavior — behavior that continues to be popular among adolescents.

In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 35 percent of high school students participating in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey drank some amount of alcohol. Twenty-one percent binge drank; 10 percent drove after drinking; and 22 percent got in a car with someone else who had been drinking.

Reversing these statistics, the CDC said, is dependent upon “continued research and evaluation to determine their success and to improve their effectiveness.”

Source: Pandey SC, et al. Potential role of adolescent alcohol exposure-induced amygdaloid histone modifications in anxiety and alcohol intake during adulthood. Neurobiology of Disease. 2015.

NIAAA recognizes Alcohol Awareness Month 2015

National Institutes of Health - April 2nd

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, a time to learn about alcohol and the health and social problems caused by drinking too much. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) encourages the public to dedicate this month to understanding how excessive drinking can affect health and to evaluating their own drinking habits.

Consequences of drinking too much

Many adults drink moderately and responsibly without complications, and there are indications from research that some can derive modest health benefits. At the same time, alcohol-related problems – which result from drinking too much, too fast, or too often – are among the most significant public health issues in the United States and internationally. For example, an estimated 16.6 million Americans have alcohol use disorder – a medical term describing a range of mild, moderate, and severe alcohol problems. In addition, research shows that binge drinking is not uncommon among adults in the United States. Nearly one quarter of people age 18 and older report that they consumed five or more alcoholic drinks on the same occasion on at least one day in the past month. Importantly, this consumption pattern is also prevalent among adolescents ages 12-17, with about 6 percent of them reporting drinking in this way.

Excessive drinking affects all Americans, whether or not they drink. Alcohol problems cost the United States $224 billion in 2006, primarily from lost productivity, but also from health care and property damage costs.

Evaluate drinking patterns

NIAAA encourages people to evaluate their drinking habits during Alcohol Awareness Month.

For women, low-risk drinking can be defined as no more than three drinks on any single day and no more than seven drinks per week. For men, it is defined as no more than four drinks on any single day and no more than 14 drinks per week. NIAAA research shows that only about 2 in 100 people who drink within these limits have an alcohol use disorder.

The NIAAA website can help you with the following informational and self-assessment tools:

  • Information on recommended drinking limits
  • An interactive tool for individuals to self-assess their drinking patterns and determine whether they could benefit from a change

Forward to Friend