ALCOHOL MAYDAY

Some alcoholic drinks are set to cost more from May 1 in Scotland as the country becomes the first in the World to set a minimum price for alcohol, in this case 50 pence per unit.

The move has been made to alleviate Scotland’s drink problem and is expected to save “thousands of lives” according to health minister Shona Robison. Drinks most affected will be 7.5% ABV (Alcohol By Volume) cider which can currently be bought in Scotland for as little as 16pence per unit, the new limits putting a 3 litre bottle (22.5 units) up from £3.60 to £11.25, a rise of more than 200% Beers and lagers at 5% ABV will have to be sold for no less than £1.10 per 440 ml can, a rise of around 50%, wines at 12% ABV for no less than £4.50 a bottle and the cheapest whisky will be £14 a bottle, all of which could persuade some thrifty Scots to travel over the border to England to buy their favourite tipples.

UK recommendations for alcohol consumption are 14 units a week, or six pints of beer or glasses of wine. More than this carries a risk of a shortened life, by one to two years for nine drinks a week, and four to five years for seventeen drinks weekly. The UK limit is one of the lowest in the World – USA drinkers are advised to drink no more than 11 pints of beer or glasses of wine a week, nearly 100% more than in the UK.

Especially worrying airlines is the incidence of dangerous drunkenness on aircraft, where alcohol has double the effect at 30,000 feet than on the ground. Noting that many get loaded up in airport bars before boarding, and some then open their purchased duty-free there have been calls for a two-drink limit in bars at airports and for duty-free bottles to be sealed and stored for passengers until the end of their flight.

More than 400 disruptive passenger incidents were reported to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in 2017. In some cases drunks of both genders swore at, threatened and fought with other passengers. Earlier this month a BA flight attendant admitted drinking four miniatures of vodka during a flight from Singapore, putting her two and a half times over the drink/drive limit and ten times over the limit allowed by the airlines for their crew. Said to be drinking to numb the pain of a divorce she was not disruptive in any way but was caught when a passenger smelt alcohol on her breath and reported her.

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