New report highlights early deaths among heavy drinkers

University teams up with Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems to produce study

Date posted

20 July 2017


A NEW report based on Edinburgh Napier research has reinforced calls for a Minimum Unit Price for alcohol in Scotland.

Published by Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP), who supported the university’s work, it further highlights the harmful impact of booze on heavy drinkers.

The findings come from detailed assessment and follow-up of over 600 heavy drinkers attending NHS services in Glasgow and Edinburgh. 

The study shows the extent of early death, with more than 100 of these patients dying over the subsequent two and a half years at an average age of 51, around 25 years younger than typical life expectancy in Scotland.

The university study also shows significant consumption of cheap alcohol, in particular vodka and white cider, by these now deceased patients. 

Dr Jan Gill, Associate Professor at Edinburgh Napier and lead researcher for the report, said: “The data sharply highlight the personal toll linked to heavy alcohol consumption, while the full extent of its earlier impact on each drinker’s quality of life and personal relationships can only be guessed.”

SHAAP was the first organisation to call for minimum unit pricing of alcohol in Scotland, in 2007, because its members, based on their front line and research experience, judged that the measure would save many lives.

Dr Peter Rice, Chair of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems, said: “The Scottish Parliament passed legislation to introduce a Minimum Unit Price (MUP) for alcohol, at 50p per standard unit, in May 2012. We deeply regret that the implementation of MUP has been delayed by sustained legal challenge from parts of the drinks industry, led by the Scotch Whisky Association.

“The UK Supreme Court will hear the latest appeal on 24 and 25 July. We hope that it will uphold the two previous findings of the Court of Session in May 2013 and October 2016 and that the Scottish Government is then able to implement this life-saving measure”.

A copy of the report is available here

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