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BMA repeats call for minimum unit pricing

The BMA has repeated its support for minimum alcohol unit pricing. 

beerThe move comes after the release of a survey showing public concerns over alcohol harm.

The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2013 reveals that 60 per cent thought that alcohol was the drug causing most harm in Scotland, compared to 46 per cent in 2004.

The proportion of young people (aged 18 to 29) believing it was acceptable to get drunk at weekends has dropped over the same period, from 53 per cent to 40 per cent.

Commissioned by NHS Health Scotland, and conducted by ScotCen Social Research, the survey asked about attitudes to minimum unit pricing for alcohol. 

Those questioned were split over the issue, but more people (41 per cent) were for it than against (35 per cent).

Although legislation to introduce minimum unit pricing has been passed in Scotland, it has not been implemented because it is subject to legal challenge from the drinks industry.

Change of heart

BMA Scottish council chair Brian Keighley said: ‘This survey shows that people increasingly believe alcohol to be a major cause of problems in our society.

‘The increasing costs to the health service of treating the harm associated with alcohol misuse could cripple the NHS with a financial burden that is no longer sustainable especially in the current financial climate.

‘That is why the BMA supports the introduction of minimum unit pricing as a central part of a comprehensive strategy to help tackle Scotland’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol.’

The survey – based on interviews with a representative sample of almost 1,500 people in Scotland – also found that 84 per cent of Scots thought that alcohol causes ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’ of harm in Scotland.

However, there was a small increase in the number believing it is easier to enjoy a social event if you have had a drink (35 per cent in 2004 to 39 per cent in 2013).

Cabinet secretary for health and well-being Alex Neil welcomed the survey results, saying that they show a need for continuing action – including minimum pricing – on Scotland’s relationship with alcohol.

 Read the survey