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Scotland’s alcohol law may have prevented around 150 deaths a year, study finds

In 2016, before the new law, there was a 10% increase in alcohol-related deaths in Scotland (to 1,265) compared to 2015

The law, which has been in force since 2018, will have contributed to a 13.4% reduction in deaths due to alcohol consumption in general, which is equivalent to an average of about 150 deaths per year.

Almost 150 annual deaths due to alcohol consumption will have been avoided in Scotland, United Kingdom, with the entry into force of the law that sets a minimum price for the sale of alcoholic beverages, estimates a study published this Tuesday.

The law, the first of its kind in the world, has been in force since May 1, 2018 and, according to a study published in the British medical journal The Lancet, it will have contributed to a 13.4% reduction in deaths from alcohol consumption in general, the equivalent of an average of around 150 deaths per year, compared to the estimated number of deaths that would have occurred had the legislation not been implemented.

Estimates were calculated prior to the entry into force of the legislation. (January 2012 to April 2018) and later (May 2018 to December 2020).

The authors of the study carried out by researchers from the Universities of Glasgow (United Kingdom) and Queensland (Australia) and the Scottish Public Health Service compared alterations in number of deaths and hospitalizations due to alcohol consumption in the two periodsusing data from England as a control, also in the UK, but where the law in question does not apply.

Other factors were also considered, such as the level of restrictions introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic. More recent official statistics, not included in the study, point to an increase in 4% in alcohol consumption mortality in Scotland between 2020 and 2021while in England it is 7%, but the study authors consider it unlikely that the inclusion of more current data will change the main conclusions, namely that the 2018 legislation is having “the intended effect of addressing health inequalities in around the harms of alcohol”. consumption”.

The article published in The Lancet highlights that the reduction in deaths associated with alcohol legislation has occurred in the most socioeconomically disadvantaged Scottish population (40%), estimating a decrease of 11.7% in deaths from alcoholic liver disease (liver damage caused by excessive alcohol consumption). of alcoholic beverages) and 23% due to alcohol dependence syndrome (alcoholism).

In 2016, before the new law, there was a 10% increase in deaths in Scotland (to 1,265) related to alcohol use compared to 2015.

Scottish law has fixed a minimum price of 50 pence (0.57 euros) per unit of alcohol (10ml or 8g of pure alcohol). The Scottish Parliament will rule in 2024 on the future of the legislation, the impact of which is being assessed.

In Portugal, the Service for Intervention in Addictive Behaviors and Addictions (SICAD) has been defending the increase in the price of alcoholic beverages by defining a minimum amount per gram of alcoholto discourage excessive consumption and its effects on health.

In statements to Lusa, the deputy director general of SICAD, Manuel Cardoso, said that the Lancet study “comes to cement the idea” that setting a minimum price for the sale of alcoholic beverages “is the best way to manage access.” , particularly among the poorest, to “something that is harmful to health”.

For Manuel Cardoso, in Portugal, where there is “consumption tolerance” and a “protectionist policy in relation to wine”, this price policy will only be “implemented with committed political decision-makers”.

According to the public health physician, it is unacceptable that a liter of wine can be sold cheaper in a supermarket than a liter of milk.

Manuel Cardoso recalled that “there is no alcohol consumption without risk” and that, in parallel with the measures to prevent excessive consumption, such as the pricing policy, it must focus on early diagnosis and “caring for the people who need to be cared for” . ”.

Source: Observadora

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