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

05 November 2015



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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.

Alcohol advertising ban near Scots schools could affect high streets, MSPs hear

A proposed ban on advertising alcohol near schools could have a negative impact on high streets and town centres, MSPs have been told.

Holyrood's Health Committee heard measures in Labour MSP Richard Simpson's Alcohol Bill could result in an effective ban on alcohol advertising in some urban areas, with the potential to damage local economies.

If passed, the Bill would ban fixed advertising such as billboards or window displays within 200 metres of schools, nurseries and children's play areas.

Sarah Hanratty, deputy chief executive of the Portman Group, the body representing UK alcohol producers, told the committee: "The potential impact on a small high street, for example, if you have three shops, a high street that is half a mile long, a couple of schools or a nursery and a creche, then effectively you've banned any sort of alcohol marketing or advertising along that whole high street.

"There can be a big impact to local economies. I think the importance of the night-time economy and a very responsible and enjoyable place that people want to go can be a huge driver of economic value to small town centres.

"So, I would be very cautious about restricting through legislation when actually what you could do is come up with some very clever and innovative voluntary agreements."

Guy Parker, chief executive of the Advertising Standards Authority, also raised the potential economic impact for businesses that rely on advertising funding.

He said: "We don't think the evidence base is there to justify a 200-metre exclusion zone.

"In built-up areas, particularly in Scotland where I imagine there are a lot of schools, nurseries and playgrounds, that's going to, I would have thought, rule out poster advertising to really quite a high degree."

He also warned of the possible unintended consequence of increasing price competition between drinks companies.

"The more you ban advertising, the less options they've got with what to do with their budget and money that is previously in their advertising budget ... moves and they are much more likely to put it into lower prices or price promotions if they're allowed to do price promotions.

"The evidence linking price and consumption is a lot stronger than the evidence linking advertising and consumption."

MSPs heard many drinks producers and retailers have voluntarily agreed not to put advertisements for alcohol on outdoor poster sites within 100 metres of schools.

Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Roberts, assistant to the secretary for Scotland at The Salvation Army Scotland, said self-regulation in the alcohol industry had been shown not to be as effective as statutory restrictions.

He said: "We feel that even these measures in the Bill, as good as they are, don't go far enough.

"There are plenty of other businesses that want to advertise, I'm sure the economy wouldn't suffer totally through a lack of alcohol advertising."

Source: Herald Scotland, 3rd November

PC gone mad? Alcohol cop brands gin and tonic flavoured crisps 'irresponsible'

PC Claire McNaney of Durham Police provoked a furious backlash on social media with one Twitter user dubbing her McNanny.

The officer had tweeted a picture of the Aldi gin and tonic crisps, adding the comment: "Totally irresponsible product @AldiUK, what message does this give out to people, especially children?"

Aldi responded, saying: "We're very sorry to hear you feel this way, and we'll be sure to pass your feedback onto the relevant department."

The budget supermarket later added that the crisps were part of their Christmas range.

Source: the Daily Express, 4th November

North East alcohol awareness groups pledge to tackle a growing problem

Nearly half of people in Newcastle have admitted having a problem with alcohol, new research has shown.

Some 45% of people who responded to questions posed by Newcastle City Council were classed as increasing or higher risk drinkers.

These categories are used to identify people with alcohol disorders and those who drink dangerously, based on how much and how often people say they drink.

While 22% of people said they never drink, almost the same number (20%) admitted to drinking more than twice the recommended limit at least once every week.

And health bosses have warned they are doing all they can to tackle an issue which isn’t “taken lightly”.

Eugene Milne, Newcastle director of public health, said: “The figures reflect what we know – that alcohol affects all of our communities.

“Newcastle and the North East continue to see some of the highest levels of alcohol related ill health in England.”

The numbers were presented to the city council as part of the 2015 Residents Survey, which also questioned inhabitants of 26 Newcastle wards about their health, finances and satisfaction with local services.

Of more than 2,000 people surveyed, men were more likely to drink alcohol than women.

The unemployed are significantly less likely to drink than people with jobs, with only 51% of unemployed people drinking, compared to 82% of working people.

More young people drink alcohol than their older counterparts, but Newcastle’s middle­-aged drinkers indulge more regularly, with 44% of 45­ to 64-­year-­olds drinking at least twice a week, compared to just 20% of those aged 18 to ­24.

The survey also showed that the social problems caused by heavy drinking are a big concern to many people.

Three in 10 people questioned were worried about the number of young people drinking alcohol in public, and identified it as something they wanted to be improved in their area.

Dangerous drinking also has a heavy impact on local public services.

On Monday, a report supported by North East alcohol awareness group Balance claimed that heavy drinking “places a significant and unnecessary strain” on the emergency services.

Sue Taylor, partnership manager at Balance, said: “This is not a problem that is taken lightly and there is already a wealth of partnership work taking place in the region to reduce this harm within our communities.

“Most people who suffer alcohol­-related health problems are not alcoholics or binge drinkers. Drinking just a pint of beer or a glass of wine every day can increase the risk of seven types of cancer and the more a person drinks, the more they increase their risk.”

Dr Milne suggested that controlling the cost of alcohol might offer a solution to this problem.

“There is good evidence that increasing the price of alcohol reduces the amount people drink,” he said.

“This would have health benefits and help to reduce antisocial behaviour and disturbance in our communities.”

Source: Chronicle, 31st October

Campaign highlights alcohol link to seven cancers

Northumberland County Council is backing a campaign launched by Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, to raise awareness of the link between alcohol and seven types of cancer in the run-up to the festive period.

Almost one million North Easterners are ignoring Government health guidelines and drinking at levels which are putting them at greater risk of seven types of cancer.

A survey carried out by Balance revealed that almost 2 in 5 of the region’s adults, around 813,000 people, are regularly drinking more than the recommended daily limits. These are two to three units for a woman – no more than a standard 175ml glass of wine – or three to four units for a man, which is a pint of strong lager.

Evidence shows that if you regularly drink above the guidelines the risk of developing cancer is higher than non-drinkers.

However, more than 9 in 10 people in the region who regularly drink above the recommended limits believe they are light or moderate drinkers.

These concerning statistics have led Balance to launch its campaign to raise awareness of the link between alcohol and seven cancers including mouth, pharyngeal (upper throat), oesophageal (food pipe), laryngeal (voice box), bowel cancer, breast and liver.

Many of us often underestimate how much we drink, not realising we’re drinking at risky levels and in turn increasing our risk of developing cancer. Balance’s campaign aims to make people aware of the hidden harms associated with alcohol and encourage people to think about their intake and, if necessary, cut back to help reduce their risk.

Coun Susan Dungworth, cabinet member for adult care and public health at Northumberland County Council, said: “There are lots of risk factors that contribute to cancer, but there is also a proven way to cut your risk of cancer – cut back on the amount of alcohol you drink. More than 800,000 North Easterners are increasing their risk of cancer by drinking above the recommended limits. It's never too late to stop."

The campaign will see a hard-hitting advert aired on television screens over a four-week period from Monday. The advert features a woman enjoying lunch and a glass of wine with her partner when she spills some of her drink on her top. The stain changes to show a growing tumour on her breast.

Source: Northumberland Gazette, 4th November

Most women 'unaware' of breast cancer risks linked to alcohol or obesity

Most women undergoing checks for breast cancer are unaware that drinking alcohol or obesity increases their risk of the disease, a poll has found.

The survey of 206 women having a breast screening mammogram or being checked over for symptoms at a breast clinic found fewer than a quarter knew that alcohol could increase their breast cancer risk.

Of those who did know, at least half of the women were unaware how much alcohol was in a glass of wine and a pint of beer.

Researchers also found that fewer than a third of women knew obesity could increase chances of the disease, while 23% were unable to name any risk factors for breast cancer at all.

The research, from Cancer Research UK and Bupa, is being presented at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference in Liverpool.

According to Cancer Research UK, more than a quarter of breast cancer cases in the UK each year could be prevented through women leading healthier lifestyles, such as keeping a normal weight and drinking less alcohol.

It is estimated that 9% of all cancer cases in the UK among women are linked to overweight and obesity, while 6% are linked to alcohol.

Every year in the UK, more than 50,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and around 11,600 die from the disease.

Study co-author Dr Ellen Copson, associate professor of medical oncology at the University of Southampton, sa id: "There are ways women can potentially reduce their breast cancer risk - including drinking less alcohol and keeping a healthy weight. But most of the women we questioned didn't know this.

"It's also worrying that so few of the women we questioned knew how much alcohol was in various drinks.

"The more alcohol you drink, the more your risk of breast cancer increases - but making a decision about whether or how to cut back is more difficult if women aren't sure about the alcohol content of different drinks."

Dr Daniel Rea, chairman of the NCRI breast cancer clinical studies group, said: "This study highlights that women aren't always aware that lifestyle changes can have an impact on breast cancer risk.

"We need to find the best time and place to provide this information and use these opportunities to help women know what choices can be made to cut their chances of developing the disease."

A medium (175ml) glass of wine (12% alcohol by volume) contains two units of alcohol. A pint of beer (4%, 586ml) is also two units.

Source: Daily Express, 1st November

Lack of exercise linked to higher risk of alcohol abuse

A new study out of Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health has discovered that black men and women who rarely or never exercised had twice the odds of abusing alcohol, as compared to those who exercised frequently—a finding that may have ramifications across all ethnic groups.

The study, which was presented today at the American Public Health Association Meeting in Chicago, analyzed the survey data of 5,002 black men and women. The participants were drawn from the National Survey of American Life (NSAL)—a study that took place from 2001 to 2003 and sought to uncover racial and ethnic differences in mental disorders and other psychological distress.

After adjusting for demographic factors like socioeconomic status and neighborhood characteristics, the researchers found that those who engaged in little to no physical activity had between an 84 and 88 percent higher likelihood of abusing alcohol.

The study is perhaps all the more interesting when considering the fact that, according to the National Instituteon Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), black Americans had some of the lowest rates of heavy drinking among American ethnic groups, generally second only to Asians—meaning the trend shown here could possibly be stronger, depending on the group (and sex of the participant).

Moreover, this is one of the first studies to tie these two seemingly separate behaviors together.

"There have been studies of the association between substance use and related comorbid health conditions, such as depression and anxiety," said author April Joy Damian, a doctoral student in the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in a statement. "There has been little research that has examined the connection between exercise and decreased odds of alcohol use disorder.”

"Because the NSAL study was essentially a snapshot that was taken at one point in time, we can't say that engaging in physical activity will prevent people from developing alcohol use disorder or that alcohol use disorder can be treated with physical activity," Damian clarified.

Nonetheless, it has important implications for further study.

"Given that alcohol use disorder has a high rate of co-occurrence for depression and anxiety, it merits further study all around, for African Americans as well as others. We should consider how physical activity contributes to alcohol-related behavior and design interventions for people who are at risk," Damian said.

Source: Red Orbit, 2nd November

Want a beer with that? Burger King in bid to become first fast food chain to sell alcohol in its UK restaurants

Burger King have launched a bid to become the first fast food chain to sell alcohol in its UK restaurants.

The restaurant chain wants to sell plastic bottles of American beer to be drunk on the premises from this month.

It has applied for drinks licences at four UK branches - Newcastle-under-Lyme, Blackpool, Hull and Bury St Edmunds - from 10am to 11pm seven days a week.

If the licence is granted Burger King could apply for more licences nationwide.

A spokeswoman for the company in Britain said: 'We're just catching up with the rest of the world really.'

Meanwhile, rivals McDonald's said serving alcoholic drinks was not something customers had asked for.

A message on the fast food restaurant read: 'We develop our menu based on what our customers tell us they like and want from a visit to the  McDonald's. 

'Although a number of European McDonald's markets serve alcoholic beverages as part of their menu, this is not something that we have experienced customer demand for or something that fits with the family-friendly focus of our restaurants in the UK.'

Source: The Daily Mail, 31st October

Five Guys burger chain refused permission to serve alcohol outdoors at new Dundee Overgate restaurant

US burger chain Five Guys, which is due to open a restaurant in Dundee’s Overgate Centre, has been forced to back down on proposals to extend an alcohol licence to an external seating area on the south side of the Overgate.

Despite hearing claims that alcohol was responsible for less than 1% of the restaurant’s sales, Dundee City Council’s licensing board ruled against allowing diners access to alcohol in the external seating area due to public drinking fears.

Maryfield councillor Georgina Cruikshank said: “Nothing I have heard today convinces me that this is workable.”

Source: The Courier, 30th October

Malfunctioning enzyme may cause people to binge drink, leading to alcoholism

A new study in mice shows that restoring the synthesis of a key brain chemical tied to inhibiting addictive behavior may help prevent alcohol cravings following binge drinking.

The brain is filled with nerve cells tasked with keeping us going. These cells and the neurotransmitters they release are responsible for everything our body does — they allow the brain to tell our heart to beat, our feet to walk, and our mouths to talk. They can also affect mood, sleep, and thoughts. It’s obvious, then, that their activity would have an effect on addictive behaviors and cravings, but how exactly addiction works has not been fully resolved.

However, we may be one step closer now, thanks to a new study by scientists at Stanford University of Medicine. A team of researchers has identified a enzyme, ALDH1a1 that may change the reward system of the brain, turning a person into an alcoholic. Malfunctioning of the enzyme may be a reason that binge drinking increases the odds of developing alcoholism.

The study in mice shows that restoring the synthesis of a brain chemical tied to inhibiting addictive behavior may help prevent alcohol cravings. This discovery could help guide in developing medications that extinguish the urge to consume alcohol, says Jun Ding, PhD, assistant professor of neurosurgery. The lead author of this study is post-doctoral scholar Jack-Ick Kim and their study has been published in Science, Oct 2.

In their study, the researchers found that blocking ALDh1a1 activity led to mice’s consumption for alcohol to rise to levels equivalent to those observed in mice that had experienced several rounds of equivalent of binge drinking, whereas restoring ALDh1a1 levels had reversed this effect.

Previous studies shows that mutations in the gene for ALDH1a1 are associated with alcoholism, but scientists were unsure how. A key finding in this new study reveals that in certain nerve cells that are strongly involved in addictive behaviors, ALDH1a1 is an essential piece of a previously unknown biochemical assembly line for the manufacture of an important neurotransmitter called GABA. (Neurotransmitters are chemicals that bind to receptors on nerve cells, promoting or inhibiting signaling activity in those cells). It was previously believed that the manufacture of GABA didn’t involve ALDh1a1.

Alternative Assembly line

While GABA is produced widely throughout the brain, the novel GABA-production assembly line identified by Ding’s group was observed only in a group of nerve cells known to play a powerful role in addiction. The new finding has potentially great clinical significance because a drug that could increase GABA synthesis through this alternative assembly line — by boosting ALDH1a1 levels in the brain — could potentially restore the balance in neural circuitry that’s been thrown out of kilter by excessive alcohol consumption without dangerously elevating GABA levels elsewhere in the brain.

Another neurotransmitter substance, dopamine, supercharges the machinery of the brain’s so-called reward circuit, which is involved in all types of addictive behavior from cocaine, morphine and alcohol abuse to compulsive gambling.

(The reward circuit is a network of nerve cells and connections found in the brains of living creatures from flies to humans and every animal in between. It guides individuals’ behavior — and ensures species’ survival — by offering pleasurable sensations as a reward for eating, sleeping, having sex and making friends. Key components of this circuit are fueled by dopamine).

Until recently, neuroscientists widely assumed that each type of nerve cell in the brain can release one and only one neurotransmitter. But in a study published in Nature in 2012, Ding, then a postdoctoral scholar at Harvard Medical School, and his colleagues demonstrated that dopamine-producing nerve cells can manufacture and release other types of neurotransmitters, too, including GABA. These cells not only produce both dopamine and GABA but release them simultaneously.

“We wondered what GABA is doing in there,” Ding said. “Why does one nerve cell need two neurotransmitters?” Ding also had another question. “All of us normally encounter countless reward-inducing situations without getting addicted,” he said. “Every time I publish a paper, my dopamine-producing nerve cells go crazy, but I don’t get addicted. Why not?”

The team used advanced methods to impair ALDH1a1 activity in mice, which, as they had hoped, caused GABA levels in dopamine-producing nerve cells to drop. The same thing happened in mice that were given large amounts of alcohol/that participated in binge drinking. The mice with ALDH1a1 deficiency showed the same increased alcohol preference and intake as the “binge drinker” mice.

Ding said he believes mutations in ALDH1a1 may predispose some individuals to alcoholism because a “brake” is disabled in the reward system — GABA’s co-release with dopamine is normally what keeps everyday pleasurable sensations from becoming addictive behaviors.

Currently, alcoholism affects more than 200 million people globally, including 18 million Americans. Binge drinking substantially increases the likelihood of developing alcoholism.

The previously unknown importance of ALDH1a1 in the brain’s reward circuit could open many doors for future research on halting cravings. The lab is now looking to see if similar molecular mechanisms are behind other forms of addiction as well.

Source:, 2nd November

New Dutch guide advises not to drink alcohol

The Health Council for the Netherlands has released a new set of guidelines recommending that people abstain from alcohol altogether or drink no more than one glass per day.

The Health Council is an independent scientific advisory body to the government and parliament, and has outlined new recommendations on following a healthy diet.

Previously women were advised to drink no more than the equivalent of one glass of wine on a daily basis, with the recommendation for men being two.

Now the guidelines advise that more than one alcoholic drink raises the risk of strokes and various forms of cancer.

The negative aspects of drinking are considered to outweigh any health benefits.

The new guidelines are now being translated into formal recommendations by the national dietary centre Voedingscentrum and will be available next year.

Last month the “world’s first” non-alcoholic distilled spirit was launched.

Source: The Spirits Business, 5th November

Leading Global alcohol producers reaffirm commitment to reduce harmful drinking

The International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD) is pleased to announce the launch of the Guiding Principles for Responsible Retailing of Beverage Alcohol at the World Retail Congress - Africa on 3 November 2015.

Motivated by a shared desire to strengthen and expand their long-standing efforts to reduce the harmful use of alcohol, leading global producers of beer, wine, and spirits have signed a series of collective, proactive commitments. These targeted actions, applicable in five key areas, and implemented over a five-year period (2013-2017), aim to:

  • Reduce Underage Drinking
  • Strengthen and Expand Marketing Codes of Practice
  • Provide Consumer Information & Responsible Product Innovation
  • Reduce Drinking and Driving
  • Enlist the Support of Retailers to Reduce Harmful Drinking

In agreement with public health experts, signatories to these Producers' Commitments believe it is essential to involve retailers in efforts to promote safe drinking environments and prevent harmful use of alcohol, and that working together is more powerful than working alone. The Guiding Principles for Responsible Retailing of Beverage Alcohol were developed in collaboration, to set a standard that both retailers and producers support, and encourage responsible retailing worldwide. Leading retailers have already adopted policies and undertaken measures to promote responsible retailing, and many producers support responsible retailing initiatives such as proof-of-age requirements and server training.

Commenting on the initiative, Ann Keeling, CEO of IARD, explains, "All stakeholders recognize the need to ensure that retailers, as the first point of contact with consumers, are working collaboratively with producers of beverage alcohol to ensure we are contributing to the reduction of alcohol-related harm. These Guiding Principles acknowledge the diversity of the retail sphere and significant differences in retailing practices or establishments internationally, and aim to address common issues and national contexts to continue to promote safe drinking."

The launch program featured an introduction of the Producers' Commitments from Managing Directors of IARD sponsor companies and a presentation of the Responsible Retailing Principles. A panel discussion, featuring representatives from each stakeholder group - government, retailers and retail associations, and alcohol industry representatives - explored the particular, positive contribution each can make to reducing alcohol-related harm.

Source: PR Newswire, 3rd November

Repeat drink-drivers should be banned from consuming alcohol, says Hampshire MP

A Hampshire MP wants repeat drink-drivers to be given compulsory sobriety sentences.

Kit Malthouse says a pilot scheme in south London which has seen people convicted of alcohol-related offences told not to drink, with testing in place to check they comply, should be extended across the country.

Mr Malthouse, Tory MP for North West Hampshire, asked the Ministry of Justice if ministers would roll the pilot out across the country.

He said: “One of the most effective disposals for dangerous driving offences where alcohol is concerned is compulsory sobriety.

“Following the highly successful pilot in Croydon and the very welcome licensing by the minister for this disposal across the rest of the country, I wonder if you will join with me in encouraging police and crime commissioners to set up facilities to allow for compulsory sobriety so that magistrates can make use of it in repeat drink-driving offences in particular.”

Replying to the question in the House of Commons during Justice Questions, minister Mike Penning said: “I am aware of the scheme and I actually discussed it with the Prime Minister only recently.

“The sobriety bracelet that is being used in South Croydon is actually, I believe, on the Prime Minister’s desk as we speak.

“This is a measure which I am encouraging PCCs around the country to push forward. It has been very successful.”

Under the pilot scheme offenders subjected to alcohol abstinence monitoring have been forced to wear an ankle bracelet which regularly checks their sweat for traces of alcohol.

Source: The Portsmouth News, 4th November

Against doctors' orders, American women are opening up about drinking while pregnant

I’ve long described pregnancy as a lengthy list of things you can’t do (or eat or drink). Of course, growing and nurturing a human being is a miraculous process, but let’s be honest: it’s also a buzz kill. From the moment any woman finds out she’s pregnant, she becomes bombarded with “no.” No sushi, no hot tubs, no jumping on trampolines, no caffeine, no deli meats, and above all, no alcohol. None. Not a single drop.

This zero alcohol policy has long been touted by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and just last week the American Academy of Pediatricians released a new report on fetal alcohol spectrum disorder that likewise denounces any and all alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Said the paper’s lead author, “There is no known ‘safe’ level of alcohol consumption.”

On its face, that statement may not seem controversial; after all, American culture has long since wised to the fact that binge drinking during pregnancy is dangerous. But, as Nora Calpan-Bricker pointed out at Slate, it also suggests “a more complex truth … It’s not a statement about something that we do know: that alcohol, even the occasional glass of wine, is definitively harmful to a developing fetus.”

Indeed, as Emily Oster, a professor of economics at Brown University and author of Expecting Better, a critical analysis of standard recommendations during pregnancy, tells Quartz, there is a disconnect between the evidence on light drinking and the one-size-fits-all recommendation: “It is very clear that heavy drinking or binge drinking in pregnancy is harmful … [but] the evidence on light drinking does not show these effects.”

To Oster’s point, several studies indicate that the occasional drink during pregnancy doesn’t actually adversely affect children’s intellectual abilities or behavior. Moreover, a group of five Danish studies published in 2012 suggest “low and moderate weekly alcohol consumption in early pregnancy is not associated with adverse neuropsychological effects in children aged five.”

Clearly, researchers and doctors are not on the same page. Caught in the uncomfortable middle of this debate are the pregnant women who have done their homework and may want to indulge in a glass of wine, only to be shamed and judged for doing so. Like other hotly debated topics such as breastfeeding, the question of what pregnant women put into their bodies has become an extension of the so-called Mommy Wars, pitting women against each other because of their parenting choices.

“[T]here is a push in parenting toward self-sacrifice. As if doing something that you enjoy inherently means you do not love your baby, even if there is no evidence that this activity is bad for the baby,” Oster explains. “This applies to drinking, as well as things like breastfeeding, sleep training and so on.”

During my first pregnancy, I followed my doctors’ orders to a proverbial “T.” I sacrificed much-needed caffeine, abstained from lunchmeat and under no circumstances would I even consider taking a sip of alcohol. I was every OBGYN’s dream.

Nonetheless, I recall walking into a restaurant while noticeably pregnant and having the waiter clear away my wine glass from the table without asking. This angered me; while I had no plans of drinking, that was my decision to make. I didn’t need—or want—a stranger to make that choice for me. The subtle judgment enshrined in such a simple act reinforced the fact that while pregnant, people I barely knew suddenly felt like they had ownership over my body and my choices regarding it.

Three years later, I became pregnant again. This time, I was admittedly more lax with all the pregnancy “rules.” I indulged in foods on the “do not eat” list without regret, enjoyed my daily cup of coffee and yes, even a few glasses of wine. And not just in the privacy of my own home. While in my third trimester, I savored a large glass of red wine over dinner with a friend. In fact, I made a point of instructing our waiter to leave the wine glass on the table and bring me the wine menu.

I’m sure people who saw me drink wondered, “Why take the risk?” Not that I need to justify that choice, but here’s why: I was stressed and exhausted from running after a hyperactive toddler. I was miserably huge and uncomfortable. As far as I’m concerned, I earned that damn glass of wine. And my nearly nine-pounds-at-birth son is none the worse for it.

Ultimately, unless you isolate yourself in a protective bubble and never leave your house while pregnant, you’re always taking some risk, whether it’s driving a car, walking down the stairs, or even enjoying some “fresh” air (hello, pollution).

The bottom line is that (the majority of) pregnant women are capable of making informed decisions, and shouldn’t be shamed for the choices they make—even if that means enjoying a glass of wine once in a while. As Oster said, “the women on this margin are not the ones we should be most worried about. We are wasting time arguing about this at the expense of making better policy that might actually help women—and children—who really need it.”

Source:, 2nd November

Scots to carry duty free alcohol in secure bags in airline crackdown

Scots holidaymakers will be forced to carry their duty free alcohol in secure bags as part of a crackdown on drinking on flights.

An airline is introducing the use of tamper-proof bags on sales of alcohol at shops at a Scottish airport.

Jet2 has introduced the scheme at Glasgow and Manchester Airport as part of its pledge to tackle the growing problem of disruptive and drunken passengers on flights.

The trial started last week at Manchester Airport and will be extended to Glasgow Airport this week in a bid to help stamp out antisocial behaviour caused by drinking on board.

Holidaymakers travelling with the airline and buying alcohol at either airport will have their goods placed in a sealed, tamper-proof bag prior to boarding.

This means they will not be able to open the bags until they land and get off the flight.

Phil Ward, managing director of Jet2, said: "We are a family airline and holiday company carrying millions of passengers every year.

"Unfortunately disruptive passenger behaviour has increased and it is something we will not tolerate.

"We are taking a proactive stance to tackle this issue from many aspects, including this new trial of tamper-proof World Duty Free bags, to make sure an anti-social few don’t spoil the experience for the majority of customers that fly with us and want a fantastic holiday.

"Over the past couple of years, unruly passenger behaviour has increasingly been linked to excessive alcohol consumption prior to embarkation and from illicit alcohol onboard.

"We believe that the tamper proof bags will act as an additional barrier and deterrent to this as well as helping our cabin crew to monitor consumption.

"If this trial is successful it is something we will certainly look to permanently introduce at all the airports we fly from."

Source: STV News, 30th October

Eat your drink: Edible alcohol shop opens in Carnaby Street

Two friends are opening an “edible alcohol” shop in Carnaby Street selling cocktail-flavoured candy floss, dip dabs and boozy fruit pastilles.

Melanie Goldsmith and Emile Bernard have created a “magical, glittery labyrinth” with the help of a theatre designer where customers can “experience” alcohol by consuming it in unusual ways.

The Eat Your Drink shop, which they claim is a world first, is selling inventions tried out at dating nights as well as sweets that are now stocked by Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges.

Ms Goldsmith, 26, who worked in PR and former chef Mr Bernard, 26, run Smith & Sinclair and have found a temporary home on the ground floor of Benefit cosmetics shop.

Ms Goldsmith, from East Finchley, said: “Different scents will be pumped into different areas. Samples will be given out that people can experience the sweets in every way — from sucking on them to licking them, to breathing them to chewing on them,” she added.

The shop will stock products not available at their online store including candy floss jars to pour vodka into. Ms Goldsmith said: “The vodka melts the candy floss, flavouring the alcohol and revealing edible alcoholic jewels.”

The jars come in two flavours; black cherry and hibiscus or beetroot and bubblegum. Alcoholic dip dabs in pina colada or mojito flavours will also be on sale as well as boxes of gin, rum, and whisky-flavoured fruit pastilles. Despite starting their business only a year and a half ago the friends said they are expecting a turnover of £150,000 during the Christmas period, including sales from their website.

Ms Goldsmith is convinced the success of the sweets is down to the taste. She said: “You get every other flavour first before the ethanol. The pastilles are coated in the flavour so you get a touch of grenadine or grapefruit but each sweet is 80 per cent alcohol and contains 0.4 units.”

The shop will be open at 10 Carnaby Street from November 18 until Christmas Eve. Smith & Sinclair’s alcoholic pastilles are available online at

Source: London Evening Standard, 3rd November

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