Drop in drink deaths must be sustained

THE decline in alcohol- related deaths can only be welcome news, although, as usual, there is much more to the story.

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Harmful drinkers in the most deprived communities are still consuming more and overall the Scottish figures compared to England and Wales still paint a picture of a country with a serious alcohol problem.

However, the improvements in the last five to six years shows a change in our relationship with alcohol is possible.

What is necessary is for the reasons for the drop in deaths and in consumption to be fully understood to allow them to continue.

Minimum pricing of alcohol has yet to be introduced and if affordability is a factor in reducing consumption as suggested then it must be given a chance as part of a wider package of measures to help reduce harm.

The recent drop in consumption appears to be due to falling incomes rather than increasing cost of alcohol but the pattern is the same - if alcohol is less affordable then less is consumed.

The focus however, has to remain on those who are drinking the most, to the levels where it is dangerous to their health.

It is in these groups that success in reducing alcohol-related harm and deaths will be measured.

Food and drink

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