Corks pop on minimum pricing decision

15 November 2017

Corks pop on minimum pricing decision

"It is heartening that Scotland is leading the way in implementing minimum unit pricing, just as it led the way with the smoking ban in public places.  Scotland has an appalling record on alcohol compared to England and this is the most effective policy to reduce alcohol-related deaths and hospitalisations."

Dr Carol Emslie, leader in substance use & misuse research group, welcomed the verdict of the UK Supreme Court on minimum unit pricing of alcohol, today Wednesday November 15

The long-running challenge clears the way for the implementation of the Scottish Government’s Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012.

Dr Emslie, whose recent research focuses on gender and alcohol use and the portrayal of female drinkers in the media, said:

“It is important to note how this verdict will be covered in the media. Watch out for ‘bench girl’, one of the most commonly used images to accompany any story on alcohol, which depicts a young woman in a black dress and boots, sprawled apparently semi-conscious on a street bench.

“We found that women’s drinking was presented as more problematic than men’s and that many media reports highlighted young women as a group particularly prone to ‘risky’ drinking. 

“However, the evidence suggests that the true picture is quite different. The consequences of this coverage means that people might think that risky drinking is mainly a problem associated with young women. Men and older people may conclude that they do not need to question their own drinking.

"Official statistics demonstrate that it is older men who still make up the majority of those who die or are hospitalised for alcohol-related causes. In Scotland in 2016, 867 men and 398 women died from alcohol-related causes. Alcohol-related hospital admissions in men were around three times more common than in women.  While the gender gap in alcohol consumption is narrowing, the media’s disproportionate focus on women’s drinking is not helpful.

"A robust programme of research is planned to monitor and evaluate minimum unit pricing in Scotland.  This research should analyse results separately by gender to explore whether the effects of the policy are similar or different for men and women."

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