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Last Updated: Monday, 28 February, 2005, 00:45 GMT
Scots' excess drink cost 1.1bn
Man lying drunk
The cost of alcohol abuse is spelt out in the report
The cost to society of excess drinking in Scotland has been put at 1.1bn by a new report on alcohol statistics.

The number of alcohol-related deaths has risen from fewer than one in 100 in 1980 to one in 30.

There were significant increases between 1990 and 2004 in young people aged 13-15 reporting having drunk alcohol in the past week.

Topics covered in the report from NHS Scotland include the alcohol market, consumption, social and health harm.

It is the first time alcohol statistics for Scotland have been brought together in this way, drawing on a wide range of sources and using previously published data.

These shocking statistics demonstrate the massive human and economic cost of alcohol misuse in Scotland
Tavish Scott
Deputy Finance and Public Services Minister

The section on social harm reports on the problems that can arise from excess alcohol consumption such as the cost to society and "drunk driving".

The 1.1bn figure is quoted as the cost in 2002/03. The number of so-called drunk-drive accidents and casualties between 1998 and 2002 rose from 740 to 820 while the latter increased from 1,090 to 1,270.

On alcohol consumption, two in five men and one in four women reported exceeding recommended daily intake levels in 2003.

Liquor licences

Between 1990 and 2004, the number of 13-year-olds reporting having drunk alcohol in the past week went up from 10% to 20%. For 15-year-old boys, the rise was 30% to 40% and for girls the same age, it was 25% to 46%.

There were more than 17,000 liquor licences in Scotland in 2003, 23% more than in 1980.

Deputy Finance and Public Services Minister Tavish Scott said the statistics underlined the need to improve licensing laws.

Person holding bottles
The number of young people drinking has risen

The executive's new Licensing (Scotland) Bill was lodged with the Scottish Parliament on Monday and will be published on Tuesday.

"These shocking statistics demonstrate the massive human and economic cost of alcohol misuse in Scotland and illustrate exactly why doing nothing is simply not an option," he said.

"Our new Licensing Bill will reform Scotland's outdated licensing laws and protect young people, communities and responsible traders.

"It will also improve health and break the link between excessive drinking and crime and make sure our licensing laws reflect Scottish society in the 21st century."

The Scottish National Party's health spokeswoman, Shona Robison, said: "The huge financial impact of alcohol abuse across Scotland is only exceeded by the burden placed on the wider society by excessive and irresponsible use of alcohol.

"The fact that this problem appears to be growing only reinforces the urgency of dealing with the crisis.

University scheme

Meanwhile, a scheme aimed at tackling heavy drinking among students is being launched at a Scottish university.

The What's In It campaign is being piloted at Strathclyde University after research showed most students were unaware how much alcohol was in drinks.

The initiative is being run by the National Union of Students (NUS) and drinks company Diageo.

They will have a better time if they enjoy alcohol in moderation and stay in control
Ian King
NUS student services

Hiding notes in library books is one way they hope to put across their responsible drinking message.

The four-week pilot, which is due to be launched on Monday, will be extended across the country if successful.

Other tactics include the use of stickers on glasses and toilet mirrors as well as nightclub entry hand stamps.

Focus group

Ian King, chief executive of NUS student services, said: "University is often the first time that young people are away from home and they are keen to enjoy their new-found freedom.

"We want them to enjoy this experience, but realise that they will have a better time if they enjoy alcohol in moderation and stay in control on a night out."

The campaign resulted from a focus group, which found that most students had no knowledge of the number of alcohol units in specific drinks and how they related to safe drinking.

Information given out at student union bars at Strathclyde University includes details about alcohol units, enabling students to make informed choices.

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