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

29 October 2015
 

#MUPsaveslives

 

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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.

Minimum alcohol proce must become law in Wales, say Laour leaders in Swansea

LABOUR leaders in Swansea have urged the Welsh Government to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol — a move already in train at Cardiff Bay.

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Council leader Rob Stewart and fellow cabinet members are set to propose a motion to this effect at a full council meeting this afternoon.

They said a minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol would target cheap, high-strength booze and reduce the cost to the NHS of alcohol-related hospital admissions.

The motion said: "Alcohol is a contributor to 60 diseases and its excessive consumption is a significant cause of premature death in the UK.

"There is a clear link between the price of alcohol and the level of alcohol-related harm, so it goes without saying that the most effective way to reduce harm is to control price and availability."

A public consultation on a draft Public Health Minimum Price for Alcohol (Wales) Bill began in July, and ends in December. As the draft bill stands, a 50p minimum unit price would be introduced and then kept under review.

The Welsh Government said such a move would be worth some £882m to the Welsh economy in terms of reductions in illness, crime and workplace absence over 20 years.

At the outset of the consultation of the draft bill, Deputy Minister for Health Vaughan Gething said: "Minimum unit pricing will affect those drinks sold at an unacceptably low prices relative to their alcohol content. This is a particularly well-targeted measure as it will only have a small impact on moderate drinkers and have the biggest impact on high-risk drinkers."

The draft bill proposes powers for local authorities to enforce the minimum unit price, including powers of entry for authorised officers; an offence of obstructing an authorised officer and the power to issue fixed penalty notices.

Professor Mark Bellis, of Public Health Wales, told the Post that a minimum unit price would improve the health of the population by decreasing consumption, particularly among heavy drinkers, and lowering associated alcohol problems.

He said: "Over the last decade alcohol-related hospital admissions and deaths in men and women have seen a dramatic increase, with the estimated cost of alcohol-related harm to the Welsh NHS between £70 million and £85 million per year."

Similar legislation in Scotland – the Alcohol Minimum Pricing (Scotland) Act 2012 – has been referred to the European Court of Justice for consideration on EU law.

There is uncertainty about the timing of this European judgement. It could be early 2016 before the outcome is known. If the judgment goes against the Scottish Government, this would have implications for the draft Welsh Bill.

Source: South Wales Evening Post, 22nd October
 

Public support ban on advertising near schools

MINISTERS are under pressure to support plans for a ban on alcohol advertising near schools after research suggested considerable public sympathy for the policy.

The proposal was backed by 78 per cent of people who responded to a survey carried out by Holyrood’s health committee.

Its findings will inform the views of members of the cross-party body taking evidence on the Alcohol Bill, introduced into the Scottish Parliament by Labour MSP Dr Richard Simpson.

Mr Simpson wants to prohibit the advertising of alcohol within 650ft of schools, nurseries and play parks as well as at public events where most people taking part are children or where the event is aimed at children.

The latter ban was supported by 83 per cent of the 543 people who took part in the survey last month. Under his plans those breaching the advertising regulations would be fined.

“The proposals with the strongest support were the ban on advertising near venues used by children and the ban on sponsorship of events targeted at children,” the survey report said.

The introduction of drinking banning orders, which would prohibit someone convicted of an alcohol-related offence from going into a pub for up to two years, was also popular. It was supported by 75 per cent.

Scotland has one of the fastest growing rates of liver disease in the world, while in six out of 10 violent crimes the offender was under the influence of alcohol, according to last year’s Scottish Crime and Justice Survey.

The Scottish Government has tried to bring in curbs on cheap alcohol and in 2012 legislation to introduce a 50p per unit minimum price for alcohol was passed by the Scottish Parliament.

However, it was challenged by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), which claims it breaches European law and the matter is currently before the European Court of Justice, which will issue a preliminary ruling later this year.

Mr Simpson last night welcomed the public backing to his proposals and said he hoped his Bill would help tackle “Scotland’s difficult relationship with alcohol”.

“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.

"I believe that with the minimum unit pricing, and the legislation still being suspended in the European Court, this Bill is even more important,” he said.

“The Bill strengthens elements which are vital in order to shift the alcohol culture in Scotland. With Scotland’s alcohol consumption per head amongst highest in the world, we cannot afford to wait any longer on this issue.”

However, the drinks industry and licensing sector are against the advertising crackdown while the Law Society of Scotland has also raised concerns.

The Portman Group, which represents drinks’ producers, said its members follow voluntary guidelines where they do not advertise within 100 metres of schools and a statutory ban would be costly and unnecessary. Under the code drinks companies should not sponsor individuals, activities, events or groups primarily aimed at under-18s.

In its submission to the committee the National Licensing Standards Officers Group (LSO) raised the prospect of what would happen if a crèche moved to an area within 200 metres (328ft) from an existing licensed premise.

“Does this require the premises to cease a practice it had been previously allowed to do?” it asked.

The Law Society of Scotland said the ban could end up criminalising parents wearing a football or rugby top carrying a drinks’ slogan while taking children to school.

While some aspects of advertising are reserved to Westminster, for instance when the advert is broadcast cross-border, a briefing by parliamentary staff to the committee said the “Scottish Parliament’s legislative competence extends to the control of advertising in general terms”.

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt said the Scottish Government was developing the next phase of its alcohol strategy and considering what further action it can take.

She added: “We are all too aware of the impact of alcohol advertising on young people and believe this could and should be reduced.

"Much of the regime governing advertising is reserved to Westminster and we have pressed the UK Government to do more to protect children from exposure to alcohol advertising in all its forms and consider a wider review of alcohol advertising.”

Members of the health committee are due to continue taking evidence on the Bill and the Parliament will vote on it in February.

Source: Herald Scotland, 26th October
 

Quarter of Scots hospital trauma cases have link to alcohol

Alcohol is linked to a quarter of all trauma cases seen by Scotland’s hospitals, statistics show.

For major trauma patients, one in three cases were associated with alcohol, with drink having been taken either by the patient themselves or by someone else involved in the incident which led to the hospital admission.

Overall, men make up the majority of trauma patients at 59 per cent, but this rises to 70 per cent when it comes to major trauma patients. The higher proportion of injuries to men was attributed to assaults, falls from a height and road accidents.

The publication also noted that one hospital, Inverclyde Royal, commissioned an internal review after it was identified as having “a potentially higher than expected mortality rate for trauma patients”.

The health board said some areas for improvement were highlighted by the review but stressed no significant failings in care had been identified.

The official figures, released by ISD Scotland, were contained in an annual report from the Scottish Trauma Audit Group (STAG), which looked at data from 2013 and 2014.

Nineteen out of 32 hospitals with an emergency department submitted data to STAG over that period, providing information on almost 6,000 patients, 22 per cent of which were classified as having “major trauma”.

The report found that death caused by injury “continued to be a major public health issue” for Scotland’s population over that time.

Since a significant reduction in deaths from accidents from the 1970s to the 1990s, accidents as a cause of death were found to have remained fairly static.

“Consequently, the impact of deaths and ongoing morbidity and disability following serious injury remains a great burden for the Scottish National Health Service (NHS) and the population of Scotland,” the report said.

On the link between admissions for serious injuries and alcohol consumption, the publication concluded: “There is evidence to suggest that alcohol was involved in one in five of minor trauma patients rising to one in three of major trauma patients.

“Alcohol was either ingested by the trauma patient or another person involved in the trauma incident.”

It went on: “Consistently, alcohol continues to be associated with 33 per cent of major trauma patients and 25 per cent of all trauma patients.

“Evidence of involvement of alcohol is nearly twice as common in male trauma patients (31 per cent compared to 16 per cent in females).”

Overall, the data showed that 6 per cent of all trauma patients died in hospital, with the mortality rate rising to around 22 per cent for patients suffering major trauma.

Inverclyde Royal Hospital was identified as having a “potentially higher than expected” mortality rate for trauma patients, the publication said.

As a result, it commissioned an internal review of the result, the report said.

A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “We take this issue very seriously and a team of experienced trauma clinicians have already undertaken a detailed review of all trauma patient deaths during 2013/14.

“Their findings have been examined in detail and I am fully reassured that no significant failings in trauma care were identified in any of the cases. However some areas for improvement were highlighted as part of this process and these are being taken forward.

“We have also put in place new systems for the review and monitoring of future trauma cases by a multidisciplinary group of specialists, and this will continue to be reviewed on an ongoing basis.”

Source: The Scotsman, 27th October
 

MSPs told alcohol licensing law 'increasingly complex'

It has become "impossible" for retailers to keep up with the amount of legislation and regulations that govern the sale of alcohol, MSPs have been told.

Holyrood's Health Committee heard that alcohol licensing laws had become "increasingly complex and difficult to understand" as they took evidence on Labour MSP Richard Simpson's Alcohol Bill.

The Member's Bill is aimed at promoting public health and reducing alcohol-related offending through a series of measures including bottle-tagging, restrictions on alcohol advertising and sponsorship, drinking banning orders and changes to licensing laws.

But the committee was warned the Bill would add further complexity to the already tangled set of rules and regulations while several of its provisions are "unworkable" or serve to duplicate existing legislation.

Archie MacIver, licensing law sub-committee convener at the Law Society of Scotland, told MSPs: "It is impossible now, being quite candid about it, for the average retailer to keep up with the amount of regulation and legislation that governs this trade.

"Practitioners that do this on a day-in day-out basis, we struggle to keep up with it," he added.

John Lee, head of public affairs for the Scottish Grocers Federation, said the Bill, if passed, would be the sixth major piece of alcohol legislation enacted since 2009.

"I think the retailers' view is that the landscape for licensing has become increasingly complex and increasingly difficult to understand in store," he told MSPs.

"I think it has become increasingly difficult for all the key stakeholders to fully get to grips with the complexity of licensing legislation in terms of promotion and advertising, and so on.

"There is a case for taking a step back and evaluating the impact of existing legislation before we go any further."

Mr Lee said many of the measures in Dr Simpson's Bill were "unworkable or come close to duplicating existing legislation".

He pointed to the proposal for bottle-tagging, designed to target the proxy purchasing of alcohol.

The measure would allow licensing boards to require that bottles are marked with a code so that drink from under-age drinkers can be traced back to specific licensed premises.

"We had some serious reservations about that," Mr Lee said. "Container-marking within a store is very time-consuming, it is very onerous.

"We felt it was both impractical and really did not deliver any particular benefit to the real and tangible problems that communities face such as the proxy purchase of alcohol."

He added: "Similarly, the provisions that related to advertising, we felt that they had already been dealt with.

"There are now quite serious restrictions on how a retailer can promote alcohol within a retail premises."

Douglas Campbell, a solicitor for Renfrewshire Licensing Board, also agreed retailers could struggle to keep up with more new alcohol laws.

"I do feel the pain of the trade and the federation's members in keeping track of matters, it is difficult enough for all the licensing lawyers across the country," he said.

Source: Evening Times, 26th October
 

Alcohol ad ban 'could criminalise sports wear parents'

A PROPOSED ban on advertising alcohol near schools risks criminalising parents picking up children while wearing drinks-branded football or rugby tops, MSPs have been warned.

The Law Society of Scotland said the Alcohol Bill currently making its way through Holyrood could target unwitting members of the public -

"Given this wide definition it would appear in our view that an offence would be committed... if a parent or guardian wears a football or rugby jersey with an alcohol sponsor when collecting children from school''.

The Member’s Bill brought forward by Labour MSP Dr Richard Simpson would introduce restrictions on alcohol advertising and sponsorship.

The proposals include a ban on fixed advertising such as billboards or window displays within 200 metres of schools, nurseries and children’s play areas.

It would also end drinks advertising at sporting and cultural events principally targeted at those under the age of 18.

MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s Health Committee are due to take evidence on the Bill from a range of organisations.

An online survey carried out by the committee found that 83 per cent of the 543 respondents supported a ban on alcohol sponsorship at events targeted at youngsters while 78 per cent wanted a ban on alcohol advertising near schools.

In a written submission ahead of giving evidence, the Law Society of Scotland said it supported the stated aim of the legislation to promote public health and reduce alcohol related offending.

But, highlighting the section covering alcohol advertising near schools, the society said: “In terms of section 6 (3) of the Bill, ‘advertisement’ means any word, letter, image, mark, light, model, placard, board, notice, screen, awning, blind, flag, device, representation container or package in the nature of, and employed wholly or partly for the purpose of, advertisement or promotion and ‘alcohol advertisement’ means an advertisement promoting alcohol.

“Given this wide definition it would appear in our view that an offence would be committed e.g. where a poster referring to a sporting event sponsored by a drinks company was displayed within the window of a private dwelling house in a restricted area or if a parent or guardian wears a football or rugby jersey with an alcohol sponsor when collecting children from school.

“This provision accordingly runs the risk of not just affecting persons with an interest in advertising but also, unknowingly, members of the public.”

Similar concerns were raised in a submission from Renfrewshire Licensing Board, which said: “The terms of the provisions, and the policy memorandum, state that, in the specific case of cultural or sporting events, any alcohol branding on an individual’s clothing would be covered by the section.

Source: The Scotsman, 27th October
 

Law Society 'wrong' over alcohol advert ban claim

The Law Society has said it was "wrong" over claims that parents picking children up from school wearing alcohol-branded sports tops could be criminalised by proposed new laws.

The Alcohol Bill proposes restrictions on advertising and sponsorship around schools, nurseries and playgrounds.

Archie MacIver, of the Law Society of Scotland, was speaking at Holyrood's Health and Sport Committee.

He said MSPs could "draw a line through" earlier written evidence.

In its submission to the committee, the Law Society had warned that the bill risked affecting unknowing members of the public.

It had said that under the proposed law, a parent or guardian wearing a football or rugby jersey with an advertisement promoting alcohol when collecting children from school would be committing an offence.

Billboard displays

The proposed ban was brought to the Scottish Parliament by Labour MSP Dr Richard Simpson as a Member's Bill.

The proposals would introduce a ban on "fixed advertising" such as billboards or window displays within 200 metres of schools, nurseries and children's play areas.

It would also end drinks advertising at sporting and cultural events principally targeted at those under the age of 18.

Mr MacIver told the health committee: "There is one aspect I think I should correct because it is, in my view, on reflection, wrong.

"We did cite examples of someone wearing a football jersey turning up at school gates. I accept that is not a fixed place so perhaps members could draw a line through that one.

"Unless you have got a very lazy parent who is standing there for days on end."

An online survey carried out by the committee found that 78% of the 543 respondents supported a ban on alcohol advertising near schools, and 83% supported a ban on alcohol sponsorship at events targeted at under 18s.

Source: BBC News, 27th October
 

Making whisky accessible to Generation Y

A group of young Scottish entrepreneurs based in Glasgow is to launch a monthly whisky subscription club that aims to make whisky accessible to a discerning younger audience.

Subscribers to the YoCo Club service will receive a case of two single malt Scotch whiskies delivered to their door for as little as £27 per month. Each case contains 40cl of whisky, giving subscribers over 12 drams to enjoy every month.

A crowdfunding campaign which launched on the Indiegogo online platform on Wednesday saw over £2,000 being raised within the first 48 hours, with subscribers able to sign up for either 1, 3 or 6 months at a time. The aim is to raise £10,000 within the next few weeks and to fully launch the service in December.

Co-Founder and CEO Calum Leslie said that the club aims to attract young professionals to sign up by offering a familiar subscription model to the 25-45 year old market.

“The UK market alone for Scotch whisky shrunk by 9.5 per cent since 2009 and this is partly due to the fact that whisky distillers are failing to attract young consumers, as the core market remains 45-plus year-old males”.

“Scotch whisky is appreciated around the world and has been the drink of choice of many for decades. Younger people’s pallets have not changed: rather it is the way in which whisky is marketed, presented and delivered that is not appealing to the discerning younger generations.”

The club brands itself as a lifestyle club that profiles their subscribers and is attempting to build a company that escapes the “old school” image of a whisky club.

Source: Herald Scotland, 25th October
 

Police call for end to 24-hour licensing over alcohol-related violence

Survey finds 75% of police and 50% of ambulance staff injured in drink-related incidents, which take up 53% of police time.

Police officers have urged ministers to call time on 24-hour licensing, after three-quarters of police officers and 50% of ambulance staff told a survey they had been injured while handling drink-related violence.

Respondents to the survey by the Institute of Alcohol Studies said there was a culture of fear among emergency service workers about being attacked when dealing with alcohol-related incidents. Just more than half of the ambulance staff said drunken patients had sexually harassed or assaulted them.

The study, which surveyed nearly 5,000 police officers, ambulance staff, NHS medics and firefighters, found that alcohol-related incidents place extra strain on already under-pressure emergency services.

Police officers also said that 53% of their time was spent dealing with drink-related crime, and ambulance staff said 37% of their time was taken up tackling problems arising from alcohol.

The majority (68%) of police officers surveyed blamed the introduction of 24-hour licensing in 2005 for alcohol-related crime, and many called for a return to the traditional closing times of 11pm for pubs and 2-3am for clubs.

Bars, clubs, pubs and supermarkets in England and Wales are currently allowed to apply for later licences under the 2003 legislation that paved the way for 24-hour licensing.

The move had changed policing forever, a sergeant told the survey. The majority of police time was now spent “dealing with the fallout from the night time economy,” he said. “No longer are we able to patrol residential areas to catch burglars etc.”

Katherine Brown, the director of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, said: “Our report shows how alcohol takes up a disproportionate share of emergency service time, costing taxpayers billions of pounds each year.

“Many of these incidents are preventable, and alcohol therefore creates unnecessary problems for front line staff, increasing their workload and preventing them from dealing with other important issues.”

The survey found that alcohol-fuelled violence against emergency service workers was “ubiquitous”. Between a third and a half of all respondents said drunken people had sexual harassed or abused them, with the figure rising to 52% among the 398 ambulance staff surveyed.

It also revealed a “culture of fear” among frontline staff, with 78% of police officers and 65% of ambulance staff saying they felt at risk of drunken assaults. Ninety-six percent of ambulance staff said drunken patients had threatened or verbally abused them while on duty.

One police sergeant told the survey: “As officer numbers reduce there seems to be a propensity by drunken and drugged people to assault officers who are routinely single-crewed now ... I fear as officers get injured or are off work recuperating the thin blue line will break.”

Brown said: “Police officers we spoke to would far rather be dealing with burglaries than Friday night drunks. We call on the government to better support our emergency services and implement policies to ease this burden, such as minimum unit pricing for alcohol.”

She said local authorities needed to use their licensing powers to bring forward closing times at troublesome bars and pubs. The institute also recommended a more widespread trial of alcohol treatment centres, mobile facilities dubbed “drunk tanks” that help to relieve pressure on emergency services.

The study found surprisingly broad support among ambulance and A&E staff for charging drunk people if they require emergency treatment solely because they are intoxicated.

The proposal was backed by 76% of ambulance staff and 54% of A&E doctors, but strongly opposed by 28% of emergency doctors who described it as “the first step in a slippery slope towards the end of the NHS”.

One unnamed consultant told the survey he had seen a huge number of drink-related admissions, but added: “I feel strongly that charging people for alcohol-related admission would cause severe cases to be missed through non-presentation, and would also represent a betrayal of the fundamental free-at-the-point-of-entry nature of the NHS. I believed we need an enormous national public health campaign and stronger minimum alcohol pricing.”

Dr Cliff Mann, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said he was extremely concerned about the damaging impact of alcohol on hard-pressed emergency departments.

“Fellows and members of the college are confronted daily with the health impacts of alcohol use, and also experience the effects of alcohol intoxication on behaviour, including social disorder and lawlessness which sometimes spills over into the hospital environment in general, and emergency departments in particular,” he said.

“The steps laid out in this report will go a long way to tackling these challenges.”

Source: The Guardian, 26th October
 

Month off drinking slashes risk of disease: Abstaining found to heal the liver and lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels

Drinkers should take a month off alcohol to prevent serious illness in later life, doctors warned yesterday.

They cited dramatic British research showing how abstention can heal the liver and lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Patients who gave up for four weeks were also at lower risk of developing cancer and type 2 diabetes.

The study is the second at the Royal Free hospital to uncover the huge benefits of staying off booze.

The results were staggering,’ said Professor Kevin Moore, who was involved in both experiments. ‘If you had a drug that did this it would be a multi-billion pound market.

‘There was a 40 per cent reduction in liver fat, they lost about three kilograms in weight and their cholesterol levels improved.’

In the second, larger study the London researchers looked at 102 relatively healthy men and women in their forties taking part in a ‘dry January’ campaign.

The women had been drinking an average of 29 units of alcohol a week, almost double the Government guidelines. The men were typically on 31 units, ten too many.

All had blood tests and liver scans and answered detailed questionnaires. Four weeks later the damage caused to their livers by years of heavy drinking had started to repair itself.

Their ‘liver stiffness’ - an indication of disease - had been reduced by 12.5 per cent. Their insulin resistance - a measurement of diabetes risk - had come down by 28 per cent.

They had also lost weight, their blood pressure had dropped, and many said their concentration and sleeping levels had improved. The researchers are due to publish further details, which are expected to show their risk of developing certain cancers was also reduced.

Gautam Mehta, a liver specialist who oversaw the study, said: ‘I am excited. There are some findings that will be pretty novel. It’s an important study which shows the benefit from a month’s abstinence. What we can’t say is how long those benefits are, how durable those benefits are.’

The initial results are already being examined by Department of Health officials, who are preparing new guidelines on safe drinking.

Current recommendations state women should have no more than three units a day or 14 units over a week while men should not exceed four units a day or 21 a week.

One unit is equivalent to less than half a glass of wine or half a pint of beer depending on their strength and size.

But health professionals say these limits should be reduced. They also want adults to be told to have at least two or three days off a week to allow their bodies to recover.

The Royal Free’s first experiment was on ten men and women undertaking a dry January last year.

Tom Smith of Alcohol Concern said: ‘This evidence confirms what a growing number of other studies have shown, that having even just one month off from alcohol has incredible health benefits.’

Andrew Langford of the British Liver Trust said: ‘It provides good evidence that simple behavioural change can make a real difference to the health of your liver.’

Source: The Daily Mail, 25th October
 

How adverts fuel underage drinking: Teenagers are FIVE times more likely to buy alcohol after seeing it promoted on TV

Underage drinkers are more than five times more likely to buy alcohol after seeing it advertised on TV, a study has found.

Researchers discovered a strong link between what the under 18s saw on television and how they drank in the month afterwards.

They were also influenced by magazine adverts and were 36 per cent more likely to drink alcohol if they read about it.

The study said that alcohol abuse among the young is a ‘major public health problem’ that needs to be addressed.

The report comes as the government is considering the ‘sugar tax’ on sweets and banning buy-one-get-one-free deals to tackle obesity, especially among children and teens.

The study from Boston University looked at already published advertising data by analysts Nielsen on how much underage children were exposed to advertising by different brands between 2011 and 2012.

The researchers compared that to their own national youth alcohol brand survey which looked at drinking habits of 12 to 20-year-olds.

The study said: ‘Underage youth were more than five times more likely to consume brands that advertise on national television and 36 per cent more likely to consume brands that advertise in national magazines.

‘These findings strongly suggest that alcohol advertising influences an important aspect of drinking behaviour among underage youth who consume alcohol’

The study, published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, could serve as a wake up call in Britain, which has one of the highest underage drinking rates in Europe.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics shows that 43 per cent of 11 to 15-year-olds have drink alcohol at least once in the last year.

That number rises with each year and by the age of 15 some 74 per cent of children admit to having had a drink in the previous 12 months.

Campaign group Alcohol Concern has called for a ban on all alcohol advertising at music and sports events because many young people recognise more drink brands that ice cream.

Cigarette advertising on TV was banned in 1965 and all other tobacco advertising was banned in 2003.

The move was because studies showed that a smoker who begins at 15 is three times more likely to die from cancer than one who takes their first drag in their mid-20s.

As a result of the bans the proportion of children who have smoked at least once has declined to 18 per cent of 11 to 15-year-olds, the lowest level since records began in 1982.

Source: The Daily Mail, 22nd October
 

Estonia proposes alcohol crackdown bill

Jevgeni Ossinovski is endeavouring to bring alcohol consumption down to fewer than eight litres of pure alcohol per person per year – a statistic that currently stands at 10 litres.

“We know from statistics and research that consumption of alcohol can be reduced by raising the price and restricting advertising and accessibility,” said Ossinovski, as reported by Baltic Business News. “Different measures including increasing the excise duty have been used, but alcohol consumption in Estonia has practically not declined from 2009 to this day.

“Consequently, the previous measures have not been sufficient. Therefore we have decided to significantly step up restrictions on both alcohol advertising and accessibility of alcoholic beverages.”

According to the bill, alcoholic drinks would have to be separated from other products in stores from 1 January 2018 and from 2017 onwards, petrol stations would not be allowed to sell any alcohol.

In terms of advertising, alcohol TV adverts would no longer be allowed to include audio or visual designs and all outdoor advertising would be banned.

Alcohol commercials would be restricted to a black and white still image and short audio cue describing the product information and a health warning.

The existing alcohol advert watershed would be moved from 9pm to 10pm.

However, producers have condemned the moves and the Estonian Food Industry Association has argued the legislation would “undermine the competitive position” of the nation’s drinks industry.

“It will ruin the competitiveness of Estonian food producers,” claimed Sirje Potisepp, manager of the Estonian Food Industry Association. “Restrictions on advertising, marketing and sales which are not based on evidence and do not eliminate an identified problem in the best possible manner will soon render senseless maintaining the jobs and production facilities of the domestic beverage industry in Estonia, because the possibilities for foreign competitors to present their products will be preserved.

“Nobody’s been consulted and one has started to attack the whole national beverage industry.”

Source: The Spirits Business, 20th October
 

Support for LGBTQ youth can reduce drugs and alcohol abuse

The evidence is clear and alarming: Teens who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBTQ) are more likely to use drugs and alcohol than their non-LGBTQ peers. Public health research shows that LGBTQ teens have three times the odds of using drugs like heroin and cocaine compared to their non-LGBTQ peers. They also have 1.3 times the odds of heavy drinking and 1.6 times the odds of marijuana use.

It might be easy to read these statistics and assume that LGBTQ teens are rebellious, irresponsible or somehow flawed. The truth, however, is something quite different. During their crucial teenage years, LGBTQ youth are too often failed by their families, schools and communities — the very institutions that should be aiding, guiding and supporting them as they grow to adulthood.

Our deep concern about substance abuse among LGBTQ youth has prompted our two organizations to join forces. We are addressing the crisis by helping parents, educators and other youth-serving professionals understand the unique challenges — including bullying and family rejection — LGBTQ youth face.

Today, we are jointly issuing recommendations designed to aid adults in reducing the risk of substance abuse by LGBTQ youth, and we are launching an initiative to expand the visibility and participation of LGBTQ youth in the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids’ national teen substance abuse prevention campaign, Above the Influence.

The need could not be more clear. Among 10,000 LGBTQ teens who participated in the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation’s Youth Survey, more than 90 percent had heard negative messages about being LGBTQ, and more than half had been verbally harassed at school. Only half reported feeling they could turn to an adult family member for help, compared to nearly eight in 10 non-LGBTQ youth. Additional research suggests that up to 40 percent of homeless teens may be LGBTQ, many forced to leave home when rejected by their parents.

Teens start drinking and using drugs for a variety of reasons, but research indicates that rejection at home and school accounts for much of the disparity in rates of substance abuse between LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ youth. One study found that fewer LGBTQ teens felt supported by the adults at their school — but those who did were no more likely than non-LGBTQ peers to use drugs or alcohol.

Whether figuring out how to discuss the risks of substance use, or getting a teen on the path to recovery, our new partnership emphasizes empathy, respect and positive feedback. These principles, when applied to preventing substance use among LGBTQ teens, can be summarized as follows:

  • Parents and caregivers are encouraged to discuss their concerns and expectations about substance use with teens, focusing on health risks and ask teens to share their perspectives;
  • Parents, educators and youth-serving professionals should actively affirm and support LGBTQ teens’ sexual orientation and gender identity;
  • Educators and youth-serving professionals are urged to confront bias and create supportive environments for LGBTQ teens; and
  • Policymakers should fund substance abuse prevention programs, address LGBTQ youth homelessness and eliminate zero-tolerance policies for drug violations.

Ultimately, LGBTQ teens are like other kids. They all need to feel safe and accepted, so that using alcohol or drugs won’t become a way to escape stress or social anxiety. They all need parents or other important adults in their lives to recognize and respond appropriately to warning signs of substance abuse. And they all need to be able to trust those adults enough to take their advice seriously and to ask for help if drugs or alcohol become a problem.

It is not inevitable that LGBTQ teens will continue to turn to drugs and alcohol at higher rates than their non-LGBTQ peers. We can’t tackle all the reasons teens use drugs and alcohol, at least not at once. But we can work to ensure that young LGBTQ people get the support and affirmation that every young person deserves, starting by looking out and standing up for LGBTQ teens in our families, schools, congregations and communities.

And when parents struggle to accept their child’s identity, we can remind them that — whatever their beliefs — the consequences of rejection are too serious to ignore.

Source: Youth Today, 28th October
 

Starbucks launches new west London cafe selling alcohol

A new Starbucks store at Upper St. Martin’s Lane serves alcohol as part of a new move to make the coffee giant an evening venue as much as a day cafe.

At the new store in the heart of the West End in Covent Garden which opened today (October 21), a range of wine and craft beers will be sold between 4pm and 9pm.

Keen to show it is on trend, it will serve up two local brews - Five Points beer from Hackney and London Alt beer from Battersea.

Even the coffee is getting an upgrade as the 'Star Reserve' store will offer five exclusive beans from around the world that could cost caffeine lovers at least £6.

Customers will also get to bypass the Starbucks queue and be served directly from their table.

The store is the second in the UK to be a part of the "Starbucks Evenings" concept.

Source: getwestlondon, 21st October
 

Tennent's owner warns drink-drive change will cut profits

C&C GROUP, the owner of Tennent’s Lager, has highlighted the continuing impact of Scotland’s tougher drink-driving laws as its first-half profits slumped by 9.5 per cent.

And the brewer warned that the lower drink-drive limit, alongside other factors such as poor weather and the integration of the former Wallaces Express wholesale business in Scotland, would hit full-year profits by €10 million in its current financial year.

C&C, which owns Magners cider, cited difficult trading conditions in its core Scottish and Irish markets as it booked operating profits of €62.6m in the six months ended August 31.

The company, which hailed a strong export performance by Tennent’s and Magners over the period, insisted the challenges it faced in the first half were “transitional”.

“We expect an improvement in Scotland and Ireland going into the second half,” said chief executive Stephen Glancey. “Some will come from cost savings, some will come because you are losing [comparison with] the drink-driving stuff in Scotland from November onwards.”

Mr Glancey admits the reduction in legal drink-driving limit has brought about permanent change in consumer behaviour in Scotland.

He observed that drivers no longer risk having one pint and getting behind the wheel, which is believed to have had an acute effect on rural outlets and pubs and bowling clubs.

While C&C has attempted to mitigate the effects of the lower limit by offering lower and alcohol free beers, he said the “reality is that people just aren’t going to the pubs.”

Mr Glancey said: “An unintended consequence of the drink-driving change has been to impact lots of rural pubs, bowling clubs, golf clubs – places where people didn’t drink and drive but they might have had one or two pints and got into the car.

“I don’t think that is going to come back – I don’t think there is any sign it will come back.

“If you listen to Paul Waterson, the guy who leads the [Scottish] Licensed Trade Association in Scotland, their research suggests pubs in Scotland have been hit by about 10 per cent. That’s quite transformational for them.”

Mr Glancey was more bullish about other parts of the hospitality market in Scotland. Although “volume-led” outlets have struggled in light of the change, he pointed to the vibrancy of the casual dining market, which has informed its investments in craft beer and cider. Those include its Drygate joint venture with craft brewer Williams Bros in Glasgow, and continental beers Heverlee and Menebrea.

Meanwhile, Mr Glancey highlighted AB InBev’s £68 billion takeover of SABMiller as “transformational” for the brewing industry. Asked if the deal could bring takeover opportunities for C&C should the merged entity be forced to sell off assets to meet competition requirements, Mr Glancey, whose firm brewers Stella Artois for AB InBev at Wellpark in Glasgow and is also a distribution partner for the brewing giant, said: “They are a good company and a good partner of ours. We will work on any opportunity that might come out.

“In terms of M&A (mergers and acquisitions) activity, any time there has been a consolidation in the past things [have] come loose over time, brands or businesses – things that the big guys don’t necessarily want, like Tennent’s. That was an orphan asset that was owned by AB InBev.

“We’d always be on the look-out for anything around that, as long as it first our jigsaw puzzle, which is British Isles [and] reinforces either Scotland, Ireland or [the] market.”

Mr Glancey dismissed as “probably not true!” speculation linking it with a bid for the UK business of Carlsberg, and distanced the company from any deals to buy pub groups.

C&C highlighted its strong cash generation, which it said was reflected in its balance sheet strength, having reduced net debt by €38m over the period.

It is looking to achieve annual cost savings of €15m this year, with Mr Glancey noting this will not have specific implications for its operation in Scotland.

C&C has also launched a €100m share buy-back programme between now and July, which he said was currently its most optimal route for capital deployment.

Source: Herald Scotland, 29th October

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