On the 3 September 2015 the legal challenge to the Scottish alcohol MUP legislation took a small, but significant, step forward: the delivery of the Advocate-General’s Opinion. In this guest post Angus MacCulloch, a Senior Lecturer in EU law at Lancaster University, explains some of the key issues that come out of that Opinion, and what it might mean for the rest of the litigation.
Two police officers posted to a Spanish resort to deal with UK tourists involved in crime have received flak for finishing work at 10pm, just as the bars start to get busy, reported the Guardian. The Daily Mail said Benidorm is to follow Ibiza and Magaluf and deploy British police officers on the streets to curb alcohol-fuelled trouble.
Drunk rape victims can remember their attacks, reported the Telegraph. The story
Last week the European Court of Justices' Advocate-General (AG) Lord Bot delivered his Opinion on Scotland's bid to implement Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP). The views of the AG though were claimed as good news by both opponents and supporters of MUP, demonstrating the complexity of the challenge in the context of EU law.
NHS Scotland's latest report on alcohol sales data indicates an end to the downward trend in alcohol consumption. It suggests the trend is now 'flattening' in Scotland, with similar patterns in England and Wales.
The report analyses alcohol sales using specialist market research data and price band analyses. It suggests that 'off-trade sales may be returning to an upward trend', with a continuing shift in the share of alcohol being sold through off-sales. 72% of alcohol in Scotland is now sold by supermarkets and off-licenses, at an average price of 52 pence per unit (ppu) versus £1.66 ppu for the on-trade.
Scotland's alcohol consumption also remains significantly higher than the rest of the UK, with the 18% difference in sales almost wholly made up by
Simulations predicting what might happen are the main indications in the UK of how alcohol price and tax changes will affect health, but from Finland we have evidence that how heavily alcohol is taxed really does affect alcohol-related deaths.
Implications of this simulation study for England are that health planners would be irrational not to get GP practices to screen every adult patient for hazardous drinking the next time they visit; it would slash future health spending while improving health – but how solidly founded are the assumptions built in to the calculations?
Alcohol-fuelled air rage incidents are up 40% from last year... proving a 'floozing' phenomenon is on the rise, said the Daily Mail.
Meanwhile Ryanair has banned passengers from bringing duty free alcohol onto its flights between the UK and Ibiza in an effort to reduce incidences of rowdy behaviour. Telegraph
Just 42 drinkers were responsible for more than 1,000 police call-outs in Portsmouth - ranging from anti-social behaviour to sexual assaults and robberies - as the council defends its Reducing the Strength initiative. The News
Alcohol-related harm is said to cost the UK £21 billion, but the assumptions behind this calculation and decisions about what to include mean the figure can vary wildly. Even a seemingly simple statistic like alcohol-related hospital admissions has been redefined, cutting the total in England by over a third. In the mix for reducing this burden are universal prevention, price rises, screening and brief advice, and treating the worst cases.
With this first UK survey providing data on price paid for alcohol plus consumption and income, the evidence is converging on the conclusion that poor heavy drinkers would be most affected by a minimum per unit price, gaining most in health, but losing most either in having to spend more or cut back on their drinking
Heavy drinking by mothers-to-be threatens their unborn child – but for that very reason, women may shy away from admitting to it. This review found several brief screening questionnaires showed promise in identifying mothers who might need to cut back, while others seemed unsuitable for the antenatal care context.
Findings from this multi-university study (said to be “as near to a real-world evaluation in a population of university students as is likely to be achieved”) in New Zealand seem an example of trials of brief alcohol interventions as they would be implemented in routine practice failing to match more promising findings from trials in less ‘real world’ circumstances.
Mobile “booze buses” to treat drunken revellers could soon become a common sight in towns and cities across England, after a pilot project led to dramatic decreases in A&E admissions and saved the NHS hundreds of thousands of pounds, reported the Independent.
Personnel Today discussed drug and alcohol testing in the workplace. It suggests a sensible way forward for employers is to remove the stigma surrounding drug and alcohol abuse and get to the root of the problem, taking a health-led, rather than disciplinary-led, approach.
Binge drinking is costing UK taxpayers £4.9bn a year as we analysed here or see BBC report and the Telegraph recently asked "Do you know how much alcohol you are drinking?" explaining units and NHS risk levels to readers.
Crime, drink-drug driving & violence
Thermal cameras could be used to catch drink drivers, using an algorithm that spots changes in the face caused by an 'alcohol flush' said the Daily Mail.
People who smoke cannabis while consuming alcohol are twice as likely to drink-drive, says new research reported in the Daily Mail.
People needing medical treatment due to violence dropped by nearly 23,000 between 2013 and 2014, according to Cardiff University researchers as previously reported here or see Wales Online.
272 children left disabled by foetal alcohol syndrome were hospitalised in England over the past 12 months, according to data from the official Health and Social Care Information Centre reported the Daily Mail and Mirror, but the actual number affected by their mother's drinking could be far greater.
A child born with foetal alcohol syndrome has been refused permission to take her case for criminal injuries compensation to the UK Supreme Court said the BBC.
Health bosses in Scotland are considering raising the legal age for buying alcohol to 21 to tackle binge drinking, reported the Daily Mail.
Alcohol Concern Cymru has called for tailored health warnings to be included on drinks advertisements, publishing research showing more than half of adverts and advertorials in supermarket magazines do not contain a specific ‘drink responsibly’ message. Wales Online.
More than 100 people have died because of a legal challenge to minimum alcohol pricing by Scotland’s whisky industry, health secretary Shona Robinson has claimed. The Courier
The NHS could save £27m a year by changing the way it deals with alcoholic patients, reported the BBC after a week at Manchester's Chapman Barker detox unit.
Two key drugs recommended in international guidelines and used to treat alcoholic hepatitis are failing to increase patients' survival and leave death rates among patients "alarmingly high", reported the Mail Online.
Marijuana isn’t a gateway drug – alcohol is, said Metro, reporting on research by Treatment4Addiction.
Binge drinking as a teenager causes long-lasting changes to the regions of the brain that control learning and memory, said the Daily Mail, reporting on new research from Duke University.
In a study of 15-year-olds in the UK, those who had been most exposed to alcohol use in films were also most likely to have tried alcohol, and about twice as likely as the least exposed to have been binge drinking, reported the Huffington Post.
Psychologists have documented a striking increase in references to alcohol and heavy drinking in the lyrics of UK chart music. They warn this could mean that attempts to control the direct advertising of alcohol to young people will be in vain, as pop music is effectively spreading a positive message on the drinks companies' behalf.
24 per cent of young professionals in the UK would consider themselves to have a “drinking problem” according to a recent survey reported the Independent.
A new event, Shaken Not Slurred — a pop-up night on the first Thursday of the month has been launched for people to enjoy a drug and alcohol free night out in Bolton without alcohol or drugs. Bolton News
Local councils are the real driving force between prohibitionist alcohol policies - and the trade should devote more attention to them, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, reported Harpers.
This Is Money said local councils could be made to pay thousands of pounds in compensation to retailers who say they were pressured into stopping selling strong lagers and ciders, following a legal ruling in Newcastle.
Drinks industry leaders will resist plans for compulsory labeling of calories on alcohol products, by arguing that information would be better used online or on smartphone apps rather than on bottles and cans, said the Grocer.
Starbucks has opened a cafe at Edinburgh Airport which is only its second in the UK to offer dinner and alcohol, reported the Scotsman.
Meanwhile the Grocer says UK consumers have almost no interest in using lower-strength drinks to cut down on alcohol consumption, according to a major new study.
the Telegraph recently asked "Do you know how much alcohol you are drinking?" explaining units and NHS risk levels to readers.