Alcohol death rates down in a decade

Alcohol-related deaths have fallen significantly in Scotland in contrast with the rest of the UK, figures show.

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The death rate for men dropped by 37% in the decade between 2002 and 2012, a report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals.

In contrast, it rose by around 2% in England and 15% in Wales, while Northern Ireland experienced an 8% fall.

The death rate for women in Scotland also fell by 34% over the same period, according to the report.

It said: "Although the rate was significantly higher in Scotland than in any other UK country in 2002, a 34% decrease compared with increases in England, Wales and Northern Ireland meant that the rate in Scotland in 2012 was not significantly different from the rate in Wales and Northern Ireland.

"Of the four UK constituent countries, only in Scotland were male and female death rates in 2012 significantly lower than in 2002."

Despite the drop, Scotland's death rates remained higher than in the rest of the UK for both men and women, the report said.

Campaigners welcomed the figures but said more work was needed to tackle the problem of alcohol harm.

Dr Evelyn Gillan, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: "It is obviously good news that alcohol-related deaths in Scotland have fallen in recent years, but this doesn't mean we can sit back and do nothing. Alcohol remains a huge public health problem.

"Twenty Scottish people are still dying because of alcohol every week. Every alcohol-related death is a tragedy for the person, and the family and friends they leave behind.

"We know what preventative action works - making alcohol less affordable, less available, and less visible. Minimum unit pricing must be introduced as soon as possible."

The Scottish Government's plans for a minimum price for alcohol are currently on hold pending the outcome of a legal challenge at the Court of Session.

Drinks industry bodies have opposed the legislation - which would see a minimum unit price of 50p brought in north of the border - since it was passed by MSPs in 2012.

The death rate for women increased by 42% in Wales, 17% in Northern Ireland and 4% in England over the period.

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