Alcohol consumption in Scotland

With alcohol-related mortality in Scotland among the highest in Western Europe and the overall cost to Scotland of alcohol misuse estimated at £3.5 billion, alcohol use and harm is rightly recognised as a significant public health issue for Scotland. This has resulted in considerable policy response from national and local governments.

We aim to contribute to the evidence base around how best to reduce alcohol-related harm in Scotland.

Alcohol licensing: strengthening the community input

In collaboration with Alcohol Focus Scotland and Iconic Consulting we explored how the community input into the licensing process can be strengthened. A variety of stakeholders participated – including community councils, housing associations, Police Scotland, the third sector, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Glasgow City Council, alcohol licensing staff and elected members. The report, Strengthening the community voice in alcohol licensing decisions in Glasgow includes a set of recommendations – both practical and innovative.

Also available is a summary leaflet (PDF) which outlines what communities can do to have a greater say in the availability of alcohol in their area.

Alcohol harm

Alcohol-related harm in Glasgow over the previous 30 years is explored in this briefing paper.  It relates the alcohol-related harm experienced in the city with local factors as well as those operating at a national and international level. Read a related blog on this topic.

report published in 2012 explored how Scottish mortality rates have changed over the previous 60 years in relation to its European neighbours. The report shows how liver cirrhosis rates in Scotland have been increasing in recent decades in contrast to the falling rates in other parts of Europe.

In recent years alcohol deaths have been falling in Scotland and Glasgow. However, by exploring alcohol mortality by birth cohort (those born in the same decade) an emerging trend of increasing alcohol deaths in the younger cohorts, particularly females, was identified.

The relationship between alcohol consumption and alcohol-related deaths has been called into question because self-reported estimates of consumption show little difference in mean weekly consumption across regions in Great Britain, although Scotland has significantly higher alcohol-related deaths.

NHS Health Scotland, in collaboration with us, used alcohol sales – a more reliable measure of alcohol consumption – to explore this issue and found that alcohol sales are generally higher in areas with higher alcohol-related mortality, thus providing support for the well-established link between population alcohol consumption and alcohol-related mortality. Download the alcohol sales full report.

The ScotPHO website, provides up-to date statistics on alcohol consumption and harm in Scotland.

Further resources

The Understanding Glasgow website includes several indicators of alcohol use and harm in Glasgow and smaller areas within Glasgow.

Using the Understanding Glasgow website and the Glasgow Game, based on the IFF World Game, we have facilitated events that explore important strategic questions for the city around alcohol and drugs.  

We have also explored issues around alcohol, young people and transitions into adulthood through a number of in depth qualitative studies.


If you would like to know more about the alcohol work of the Centre, or if you are interested in running a Glasgow Game event please contact Bruce Whyte