Monday, 23 November 2009

Irvine Welsh: ‘Let’s tackle Scotland’s cheap bevvy culture’

Trainspotting author backs alcohol minimum pricing

He is not normally associated with moderation, but Scots novelist and provocateur Irvine Welsh ­yesterday intervened in the politically charged debate over how to tackle Scotland’s drink problem.
On the eve of the SNP government’s bill on minimum prices for alcohol, the author of the drug and drink-fuelled excesses of Trainspotting and The Acid House called for an end to the nation’s “cheap bevvy” culture.
Welsh urged politicians to “stand up and be counted” on tackling the problem of alcohol abuse which costs Scotland an estimated £2.25 billion a year in healthcare, crime, the fall-out from social problems and days lost at work.
He also took a swipe at the drinks industry, which is fiercely opposed to minimum prices, as it fears other countries could copy the Scottish example.
Welsh said: “Scotland has a growing problem with alcohol abuse. More people, younger people and more women than ever before, are at risk from being encouraged to over-consume this drug.
“We know that the price and availability of alcohol products have a strong relationship to the amount of alcohol consumed.
“This is a major social issue and needs to be tackled as such by our politicians in a democracy, and this should transcend the concerns of those in the alcohol industry who feel their profitability will be compromised.
“Very few would want to go back to the days when the tobacco industry determined policy on smoking.
“Now politicians should stand up and be counted and move us on to a new era where how much we drink will not be determined by the alcohol industry lobby.”
The statement was issued on Welsh’s behalf by the advocacy group Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (Shaap), which was set up by the royal medical colleges.
Although Welsh, who now lives in Ireland, did not explicitly mention minimum pricing, his comments were made with the current political debate in mind, a Shaap spokeswoman said...

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