MSPs hear of alcohol and tobacco risk

Politicians are being made aware of the health risks linked to neighbourhoods with high numbers of shops selling alcohol and tobacco.

University experts are today (Thursday 11 June) meeting MSPs at the Scottish Parliament to highlight how a high concentration of outlets can contribute to ill-health and premature death.

The meeting coincides with the launch of a website that allows users to map alcohol and tobacco outlet density in every locality in Scotland.

It can also be used to chart death rates linked to alcohol use, lung cancer and lung disease.

Links to ill-health

One in five deaths in Scotland is caused by tobacco use, while one in 20 is linked to alcohol, researchers say.

Previous work by the researchers has shown that the link between retail outlets and ill-health is widespread and not restricted to areas with levels of high poverty.

The team claims that reducing the density of outlets selling these products could help improve public health.

Tackling overprovision

The website has been created to make the team’s findings accessible to policymakers and the wider public.

By doing this, researchers hope to enable local residents to question outlet overprovision within their own communities.

The data used to create the website has been analysed by researchers at the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. The resource was developed with Alcohol Focus Scotland and ASH Scotland.

The project was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Tobacco and alcohol use are two of the leading causes of preventable illness and death in Scotland. This website allows users to map the availability of tobacco and alcohol outlets across the whole of Scotland and to download this data for their own use. This information will help local communities play an active role in licensing decision-making.

Dr Niamh ShorttSchool of GeoSciences