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Scots urged to cut their drinking by 10% in new report

Campaigners call for national target to reduce 'devastating' alcohol consumption.

Alcohol: Report makes more than 40 recommendations (file pic).
Alcohol: Report makes more than 40 recommendations (file pic).

Ministers are being urged to set a new target to cut the amount of alcohol Scots drink by 10% over a decade.

Health campaigners and medics made the plea in a new report examining the "devastating effect" alcohol has on drinkers, their families and communities.

Alcohol Focus Scotland, one of the bodies behind the report, said it provides the Scottish Government with a blueprint to "improve the lives of millions of Scots, make our communities better and safer places to live, and reduce demand on our over-burdened public services".

It makes more than 40 suggestions, including the "overarching recommendation" the Scottish Government should adopt a national target to reduce alcohol consumption by at least 10% over the next ten years.

Reducing drinking by this level could potentially deliver a 20% reduction in deaths and hospital admissions after 20 years, the report claims.

The report also calls for a 50p minimum unit price for alcohol to be implemented as soon as legally possible.

Holyrood has passed legislation to bring in minimum pricing but a legal challenge to the policy has so far prevented ministers from implementing it, with the case now set to call at the UK Supreme Court.

Other recommendations include a ban on all alcohol price discounting, the development of a new approach to reducing availability and restrictions on off-sales licensing hours.

Ministers are urged to explore "mechanisms for reducing accessibility in off-sales" such as requiring stores selling alcohol to have separate areas or checkouts for this and banning the sale of alcohol at self-service checkouts.

On pricing, the report urges the Scottish Government to press UK ministers to create a new tax band for strong ciders and similar drinks "significantly increasing the rate at which these drinks are taxed to reflect their alcohol content".

Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: "Minimum unit pricing will hopefully be introduced next year, but further action is required to turn off the tap of alcohol harm, rather than simply treating the symptoms."

Public health minister Aileen Campbell welcomed the report.

She said: "Its recommendations are wide-ranging and we will consider them carefully as we refresh our alcohol strategy this year."

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