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One of the biggest problems faced by the NHS in Scotland is ill health brought on by alcohol abuse.
For those of us who enjoy a sociable drink and can put the bottle away, that is fine, but what of those who cannot?
For those who become addicted to alcohol the consequences can severe, including cirrhosis of the liver.
So how easily accessible is alcohol? Taking a look nationally at pubs and clubs across Scotland, last year more than 1,200 licensed premises closed for various reasons – from the smoking ban to the increasing cost of alcohol. So pubs are suffering with fewer people drinking.
But what of pub prices? Here in Oban, the average pint of beer or lager is approximately £3.20. A whisky or vodka costs approximately £2.40 with a dash, not the cheapest night out by any means.
However, we must never forget the sociable benefit of your local. They are great gathering points, not only for a drink, but for company.
The biggest eye-opener for me while researching this subject was the price of alcohol. At one local store, a 12-pack of lager is £7.20, four cans of cider £1.99, and a six-pack of bottled lager £5.49. In another store, a litre of whisky is £16.
I think the above says it all: not at the door of the publican, but in stores selling cheap alcohol.
As was said to me by one taxi driver, they go home, get fuelled up with the contents of a carryout and then call a taxi between 10 and 11 to go to the pub when some of them have already had enough.
So what of the Scottish Government’s pledge on Minimum Unit Pricing of alcohol? In order to help the NHS with this situation – which now involves children as young as 12 – the government must act now, before it is too late.
If pubs have to sell alcohol at the prices they do, why should stores be allowed to sell alcohol so cheaply, while at the same time fuelling an epidemic?