19th March 2012
To the biggest Hogmanay party in the world to wetting the baby’s head, drink plays a prominent role in Scottish life. It’s there, centre stage, in so much of our culture, sense of identity, and popular imagination.
But as politicians debated the minimum pricing bill in parliament last week, there was a consensus that Scotland’s relationship with alcohol must change.
Increasingly we face the sobering reality that alcohol can be a destructive force for some people.
During evidence sessions before the parliament’s health committee which I convene, I was shocked to learn that at least nine hundred children were harmed by alcohol before they were born, and that thousands more live with a drink dependent adult.
Equally concerning, is the fact that one Scot will die every three hours from an alcohol related cause.
The costly impact of alcohol misuse goes beyond the individual, it affects our health and social services, our justice system, and the family members who bear the burden of picking up the pieces.
Scotland’s relationship with alcohol is not just a problem that merit’s our attention it demands our remedy.
Some consider a minimum price on alcohol as an integral part of this remedy others, including myself, are not so readily persuaded that this measure is sufficient enough on its own to address all those ills.
The misuse and abuse of alcohol is a complex, social and cultural problem. There is no one size fits all solution.
Were we all agree, is that the party is really over and that it is time to call an end to Scotland’s destructive relationship with alcohol.