Alcohol-related deaths for adults in Scotland have risen for the fourth year in a row, according to figures released by NHS Health Scotland. In 2016, there were an average of 22 deaths a week due to alcohol misuse – more than two and a half times the number for 1981.
Of more concern was the finding that deaths were eight times higher in the most deprived areas compared with more affluent areas.
However, the figures also revealed that fewer teenagers are drinking than ever before. The statistics showed that 66% of 15-year-olds and only 28% of 13-year-olds said they had ever consumed alcohol: the lowest since records began in 1990.
On 1st May, Scotland became the first country in the world to set a 50 pence per unit minimum price for alcohol. It is estimated that this new law will save 58 lives in its first year and reduce hospital admissions by 1300.
“Those that drink most heavily and live in deprived areas experience the greatest levels of harm, and they will benefit most from minimum unit pricing”, said Former Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell.
The report also highlighted the vast difference between Scotland and the rest of the UK, with alcohol-specific death rates twice as high in men and 75% higher in women. Sales of vodka were twice as high per adult in Scotland than in England and Wales.
“This is a deeply troubling report which lays bare Scotland’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol”, says Scottish Labour health spokesman Anas Sarwar.