Dying for a drink – and price of alcohol makes little or no difference
By Bill Heaney
The SNP Government have been warned that Scotland’s alcohol deaths crisis is “too serious to play politics with” after independent analysis found they had misrepresented the impact of their flagship Minimum Unit Pricing policy.
The Scottish Conservatives have called on Humza Yousaf to apologise after the party’s complaint to the UK Statistics Authority, in the wake of a Public Health Scotland report on MUP, was upheld.
UKSA chair Sir Robert Chote’s reply to a letter from shadow health secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane was published yesterday – the same day on which official figures revealed there were 1,276 alcohol-related deaths in Scotland last year, the highest total since 2008.
Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane MSP and First Minister Humza Yousaf – SNP were pauchling with the prices.
Sir Robert’s findings have led to the Scottish Government retrospectively amending a press release issued at the time the PHS report was published.
Dr Gulhane accused ministers of “shamefully spinning inconclusive data to support their own policy” on tackling problem drinking in Scotland.
Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane MSP said: “My concern from the outset was that the SNP were misrepresenting the evidence by cherry-picking one report out of 40 to back their stance.
“That concern has been vindicated by the UK Statistics Authority, whose analysis has forced the Scottish Government to amend its own press release.
“Tuesday’s devastating figures underline that Scotland’s alcohol deaths crisis is a national emergency.
Drink can kill you no matter what you pay for it or how good it tastes to you.
“It’s far too serious a matter to play politics with. This crisis demands a clear-headed, data-led response from the SNP government – rather than ministers shamefully spinning inconclusive data and pressuring PHS to alter its report to support their policy.
“The reality is MUP is not the panacea that the SNP would have us believe. At best, the jury is still out on its effectiveness, given alcohol-related deaths continue to rise in Scotland several years after it was introduced.
“Humza Yousaf and his ministers need to apologise for misleading the public over MUP and instead adopt a wide-ranging approach to the crisis which includes a greater focus on treatment and rehabilitation provision.”