Alcohol-related deaths in Scotland fall by a third in a decade, bucking trends in England and Wales


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The Independent Online

Scotland has reduced drink-related deaths by more than a third in the past decade, new figures have revealed, bucking UK trends which have seen alcohol deaths rise in England and Wales.

The death rate in Scotland remains higher than its UK neighbours, but has significantly improved since 2002, when it was around twice as high as in England.

In total there were 1,080 alcohol-related deaths in Scotland in 2012 – down from 1,487 in 2002. Across the UK, the death rate has increased in the same time period, from 7,701 to 8,367.

The majority of the deaths are a result of alcoholic liver disease. People between the ages of 55 and 59 are the most likely to die from an alcohol-related illness, the figures show.

Dr Evelyn Gillan, chief executive of the charity Alcohol Focus Scotland, said that the decline was “partly explained” by the economic downturn, which had made alcohol less affordable for large numbers of people. She said that the figures made a good case for introducing a minimum unit price for alcohol. 

“Alcohol remains a huge public health problem,” she said. “20 Scottish people are still dying because of alcohol every week. We know what preventative action works – making alcohol less affordable, less available, and less visible.”