Affordability, availability and attractiveness
Population-wide preventative measures targeting alcohol’s affordability, availability, and attractiveness are cost-effective and have a strong evidence-base for success. This includes in tackling health inequalities, because these policies help create environments within which all citizens are supported to make healthy choices. Though the Scottish Government has adopted many of the alcohol policy ‘best buys’ endorsed by WHO, we could do more to implement these. The challenges of COVID-19 have made it more important than ever that we take bold action to reduce alcohol-harm. To do this, SHAAP recommends the following actions:
- Where devolved powers exist to do so, enforce total restrictions on alcohol advertising, sponsorship and promotion. Create an independent body to monitor and enforce alcohol advertising and marketing regulations and ensure that nutritional and health information, including pregnancy warnings, appears on products. There is a particular need to improve regulation of direct and indirect online alcohol marketing.
- Strengthen restrictions on alcohol’s availability. The off-trade sector should be the priority for regulation, given that alcohol sales have long been moving from pubs to stores. Alcohol-only outlets should be established, and alcohol should be removed from the shelves of supermarkets and convenience stores. The potential for a government monopoly on alcohol sales should be seriously explored. There is good evidence that supports these systems in other countries, including Sweden and Canada.
- Require the alcohol industry to help reduce alcohol harm by sharing their knowledge of sales volumes and patterns and the influence of marketing campaigns.
- Undertake a review of the minimum unit price for alcohol (MUP) linked to affordability, and raise it if necessary. More ambitious targets for reducing alcohol-specific deaths and alcohol-related hospital admissions by 2023, linked to MUP, should also be introduced.
- Work with the UK Government to introduce an alcohol duty structure that is proportionate to the harm caused by alcohol, scaled to ensure that stronger drinks cost more, consistent within strength categories and up-rated to maintain health and social benefits and revenues.