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.”
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.”
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.