STV News, 11th Feb: Health professionals call for alcohol-only checkouts in shops

Thank You to SHAAP for their weekly run down of news.
The following article was taken from STV News, 11th Feb.

Scotland should introduce alcohol-only check-outs and ban drinks advertising outside of licensed premises, according to health professionals.

The measures are among 20 recommendations on the price, availability and marketing of alcohol made by Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP).

The organisation, which was set up by the Scottish Medical Royal Colleges, has written to all MSPs setting out its manifesto in the run-up to May’s Holyrood election.

It points out Scotland has one of the highest liver cirrhosis mortality rates in western Europe, with alcohol death rates almost twice the level they were in the early 1980s.

The manifesto calls for a national licensing authority to regulate the number, type and opening hours of alcohol outlets as well as a legal requirement for alcohol-only check-outs in all licensed shops.

SHAAP wants the Scottish Government to seek devolution of powers from Westminster over all alcohol advertising and set up an independent regulatory body to control it.

A target date should be set for the prohibition of all alcohol advertising except in licensed premises, with an immediate ban in sports-related settings, including sponsorship. All alcoholic products should also be labelled with ingredients, calorie counts and health risks, it added.

SHAAP said Scottish Government plans for minimum unit pricing, currently subject to legal challenge, should be implemented “as soon as possible” while Scottish ministers should also campaign for the reintroduction of the UK alcohol duty escalator and support a UK review of alcohol duty rates.

Director Eric Carlin said: “After several years of welcome reductions in alcohol-related hospitalisations and harms, these are both on the increase again.

“It is vital that alcohol policy in Scotland should be aligned to the WHO’s (World Health Organisation) ten ‘Best Buy’ recommendations, with a specific focus on increasing the price of the cheapest, most harmful products and taking action to restrict the availability and marketing of alcohol.”

Chair Dr Peter Rice added: “There has been much good work in Scotland in recent years in prevention and in helping individuals and families, but much remains to be done.

“Some of this work will be to progress existing policies, in particular minimum unit price, which has been delayed by the actions of global alcohol producers.

“There are other new actions, for instance, on licensing and the way alcohol is sold, which we are keen to see introduced.”

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt said: “We’ve taken considerable action to reduce alcohol harm through our Alcohol Framework, including the quantity discount ban, a ban on irresponsible promotions, a lower drink drive limit, improved substance misuse education and our nationwide alcohol brief intervention programme. This was recognised in the recent Four Nations report, which recognised Scotland as leading the way in the UK.

“But while there are around 22 people a week dying in Scotland because of alcohol then there is absolutely no room for complacency. We will introduce the next phase of our Alcohol Framework later this year which will build on the progress so far.

“Given the link between consumption and harm, and evidence that affordability is one of the drivers of increased consumption, addressing price is an important element of any long-term strategy to tackle alcohol misuse and as such we remain committed to introducing minimum unit pricing.”

Call For Abstracts from PhD Students & Early Career Researchers

The Scottish Alcohol Research Network (SARN), in collaboration with Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP), will be holding a Postgraduate and Early Career Researcher symposium on 18th of April 2016 at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh.

The symposium will be a chance for students and early career researchers, with an interest in alcohol research, from across Scottish institutes, to come together and present their research. The overall aim of the Symposium is to build on and strengthen the PhD and Early Career Researchers community which is of great importance to both SARN and SHAAP.

The day will consist of a number of short presentations made by researchers who are at varying time-points within the academic journey, as well as a number of round table discussions. This is a fantastic opportunity to not only network with your peers but it also provides the opportunity to present and get feedback on your research, and discuss future research ideas.

Abstracts are invited for oral presentations from postgraduate, PhD or post-doctoral researchers, exploring alcohol related issues from all disciplinary backgrounds and perspectives. Oral presentations will be 10 minutes, with 5 minutes for questions. We also welcome all delegates to submit a poster, which will be displayed during the event. Moreover, there will be opportunities throughout the day to record a SARN Bite which will be displayed on our website. Decisions regarding successful presentations will be announced in March 2016.

If you would like to submit an abstract then please fill in This Form and return it to Jennifer Fingland by Monday 29th February .

Stricter Licensing Related to Fewer Hospital Admissions.

A recent report funded by the NIHR School for Public Health Research (SPHR) and published in  the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health argues that  stricter local alcohol licensing is linked to fewer hospital admissions.

The researchers assessed the alcohol licensing policies and responses to alcohol licensing applications made to 326 local authorities (councils) between 2007-8 and 2011-12 and generated a ‘cumulative licensing intensity score’ for each council, based on whether they deployed CIZ and/or whether they refused to grant licenses for new premises. The score was divided into four categories: no activity; low; medium; and high.

In 2007-8, 118 out of 319 (37%) local councils operated some form of active alcohol licensing policy, one in five of which also included CIZ for new premises. The cumulative intensity licensing score was classified as medium or high in around a third (35%) of councils; 43% were classified as no activity; while 21% were classified as low. By 2014, a further 63 councils had adopted active alcohol licensing policies.
After taking account of influential factors, such as deprivation and drink-fuelled crime, the analysis showed that the intensity of alcohol licensing policies was associated with a reduction in drink related hospital admissions between 2009 and 2015. The largest effects were seen in those local authority areas operating the most comprehensive policies.

Drink related hospital admissions fell by an average of 0.6% every year in those local authorities with a medium score twice as large as the fall in the average admission rate between 2009 and 2015 in those local authorities without an active alcohol policy.

In the local authorities classified as high, drink related hospital admissions fell by 2% every year, or around 8 fewer drink related admissions per 100,000 of the population in 2015, compared with what would have been expected in the absence of any active policy. The researchers emphasise that this is an observational study, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect. And they point out that the findings could also be the result of other additional alcohol policies, such as late night levies, or alcohol screening, which they did not investigate.

But they conclude: “These analyses contribute to the available evidence on the effectiveness of population level alcohol licensing policies specifically for England, and are the first to demonstrate that the intensity with which selected alcohol licensing policies are implemented and scrutinised is related to measurable reductions in alcohol attributable hospital admissions.”

This information has been taken from a BMJ press release.

Awareness Week on Alcohol Related Harm (AWARH)

November 16th- 20th is Awareness Week on Alcohol Related Harm.

AWARH was initiated in 2013; it is an initiative of the European Alcohol Policy Alliance (EUROCARE), the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), the European Brain Council (EBC), the European Liver Patients Association (ELPA), the European Federation of Associations of Families of People with Mental Illness (EUFAMI) and United European Gastroenterology (UEG). The Secretariat for the Awareness Week on Alcohol Related Harm 2015 is held by ELPA. This year AWARH is endorsed by the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA).

The aim of AWARH is to increase awareness of the need to address alcohol-related harm in Europe, and highlight the need to address it through an integrated approach to alcohol policy.
The events held during AWARH aim to demonstrate the overwhelming burden of alcohol-related harm in Europe, propose possible solutions to the problem and be a catalyst for debate at European and national levels.

We have been asked to show our support for AWARH by spreading the message via social media and by joining Thuderclap which is is a “crowdspeaking” platform that lets individuals and companies rally people together to spread a message. The site uses an “all-or-nothing” model similar to crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter, in that if the campaign does not meet its desired number of supporters in the given time frame, the organizer receives none of the donations. On Thunderclap, backers donate tweets and social media posts rather than money.

Please show your support by joining Thunderclap here.

Alcohol Research UK: Call for Proposals for 2016 Postgraduate and Early Career Symposium

Alcohol Research UK will be holding their second Postgraduate and Early Career Research symposium on March 15th 2016 at the The Rep, Birmingham.

There is currently a call for abstracts for oral or poster presentations from postgraduate, PhD or post-doctoral researchers. Proposals exploring alcohol issues from all disciplinary backgrounds and from a variety of theoretical/methodological perspectives are welcomed.

Oral presentations will be 15 minutes, with the option of including a poster. Unsuccessful proposals for oral papers will be offered the opportunity to submit a poster instead. Posters will be displayed during both the Early Career Symposium and the main Alcohol Research UK conference the following day.

Interested parties should send an abstract of no more than 300 words along with a title, your full contact details and institutional affiliation to by 2nd December 2015. Decisions on proposals will be announced in January 2016.

The symposium is a great opportunity to present your work, network with other researchers and find out what research is being carried out in the field. There is also a £100 prize for the best presentation!