We need bold policy measures to ease our cultural problems with alcohol

Should action be taken over the promotion of alcohol? <i>(Image: PA)</i>
Should action be taken over the promotion of alcohol? (Image: PA)

ALAN Simpson's article on alcohol marketing and promotion ("Hiding alcohol will do nothing to stop scourge of problem drinking", The Herald, December 2) could have been written by the Scotch Whisky Association itself.

And let’s not overlook the fact that this trade body’s membership includes some of the biggest names in the production of cheap vodka – the same cheap vodka that is often consumed by people who are drinking at hazardous and harmful levels (nearly one in four of us). Let’s also be clear, the alcohol industry is not an expert in public health, but is expert at maximising profits by driving increased sales in alcohol. It is not in its interests to support measures designed to reduce alcohol consumption which in turn is evidenced to reduce harms and deaths caused by alcohol.

The World Health Organization lists population-wide measures which target the pricing, marketing, and availability of alcohol as the three most effective ways to tackle alcohol harms. This is supported by a vast array of data and examples of impact from around the globe. It is well evidenced that in-store alcohol marketing directly influences how much alcohol is purchased and consumed by individuals, thus driving harms.

Based on this evidence, in November 2020, Ireland introduced a policy of structural separation of alcohol within stores to "reduce alcohol consumption, delay the initiation of alcohol consumption by children and young people and in doing so reduce alcohol-related harms".

Mr Simpson uses a commonly-used, unrealistic alcohol industry narrative that “the problem is not the drink but the drinkers” and suggests restricting alcohol marketing won’t impact people who are alcohol-dependent. Scotland has a cultural problem with alcohol which impacts on all of us directly or indirectly, in part because of the all-pervasive nature of alcohol marketing in our everyday lives. We need a cultural shift which will only be possible if we see bold preventative policy measures such as restricting alcohol promotion – with the aim of reducing the number of individuals in Scotland reaching harmful or dependent levels of consumption.

SHAAP strongly supports the introduction of restrictions on alcohol marketing, and there is plenty of evidence to back up the Scottish Government’s proposals, should you choose to look.
Dr Alastair MacGilchrist, Chair, Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP), Edinburgh

Gaelic the real Scots language

DEBUNKING the myths about the Scots language is overdue ("Just slang English with a common accent? Busting the myths on Scots", The Herald, December 2). At the outset, present-day linguists should be asked: why was a group of Northumbrian English dialects called THE Scots language in the first place?

Let us take guidance from a reliable source: "Scots is directly descended from Northern English, which displaced Scots Gaelic in portions of Scotland in the 11th-14th centuries as a consequence of Anglo-Norman rule there. By the early 14th century, Northern English had become the spoken tongue of many Scottish people east and south of the Highlands (with Scots Gaelic continuing to be used in the southwest). Sometime in the late 15th century, the spoken language became known as “Scottis,” or Scots, a term that was used interchangeably with “Inglis” for some time thereafter" (Scots language: Britannica – online).

So, sometime in the late 15th century the northern English tongue became known as the Scots tongue. Does that make sense given that the Gaelic tongue of the original Scots had logically been called Scots for the previous 600 years? Of course it does not make sense. Scots Gaelic is and has been – ever since 900 AD – the real language of the Scots.
Ewan Macintyre, Inverness

Three ferries idea beggars belief

MARK Smith's article in which islanders wanted two or three smaller ferries ("What Arran and its people can teach us about the ferry fiasco", The Herald, December 5) beggars belief. Do they think ferries run themselves?

Each ferry requires a crew, a captain, chief engineer, chief officer, second officer, second engineer, third engineer, a third officer plus deck and catering crew. They work a rota of two weeks on and two weeks off so one crew is onboard, the other is off. Plus other relief crew for sick relief.

Calmac relies on officers on leave to come back if an officer onboard has to go off for whatever reason. So the number of personnel required to run the three smaller ferries instead of one large ferry would almost triple if they could get them.

Do they think qualified and certificated seafarers are in abundance? It takes years of sea time and passing of exams to obtain a Masters or Chief Engineers Certificate of competence. And tripling the number of crew required would of course triple the wage bill.
J Morrison, Inchinnan

The NHS pay conundrum

THE current woes surrounding the future of the NHS prompt many thoughts and feelings. For example, why is it acceptable to pay the CEOs and senior managers of banks and public companies vast sums of money to “attract and retain top talent” yet at the same time we allow highly trained and experienced health care professionals to slip through our fingers like so many grains of sand as they are forced to pursue a salary and working conditions in countries which respect and reward their skills and ability?
Keith Swinley, Ayr

Annoying, innit?

I AGREE with the sentiments of Isobel Hunter ("Mind your As and Ts, please", Letters, December 5). It does appear the less verbose amongst us are the greatest manglers. Some examples: Ta for thank you. Innit – is that not the case? Algettit – I shall answer the doorbell. Some corruptions even evoke humour. Comfy? – Govan.

Perhaps slovenly speech emanates from some trying to be brief or being just plain lazy. Either way it jangles on the ear of the recipient.
Allan C Steele, Giffnock

Where is he really coming from?

I WAS enjoying Kevin McKenna’s article today (“Sanctimony parked as we liberals enjoy a fine World Cup”, The Herald, December 5), until I came to this sentence: “Most of our political parties think that men can masquerade as women and that gay people should be made to have sex with them.”

Has Mr McKenna been taking lessons in diplomacy and moderation from Lady Hussey?
Doug Maughan, Dunblane


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