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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Helena Conibear

The long-awaited Scottish Alcohol Action Plan - drawn up in partnership with health groups, the police, the drinks industry and others - was released on 18 January. It includes: * a new 1.5 million national campaign, involving TV advertising, to change attitudes to binge drinking; * better and more widespread training for bar staff and licensees; *action targeted at young people, including resources for parents to discuss alcohol issues with their children; * better resources for local alcohol action teams - doubling funding to 1 million and appointing a national alcohol liaison officer; * better information on patterns of problem drinking to help develop future policy - including more consistent recording of problems by doctors; * raising concerns with the UK Government over alcohol advertising. Scotland's Deputy Health Minister, Mary Mulligan, said: In Scotland alone, problem drinking is costing at least 1 billion in health costs, sick days and lost productivity - enough to build ten new hospitals.' Investment through the NHS and social services to tackle the problem is estimated at around 182 million for 2001-02. GP consultations, A&E attendances, community psychiatric visits and other health services will receive 96 million, and social services 86 million. The Deputy Minister for Justice, Richard Simpson, said: Scotland has a serious problem with drunken and disorderly behaviour - this much is obvious to anyone walking down one of the main streets in Scotland's towns and cities late at night. Public safety demands that we take action.' Director of The Portman Group and SACAM (Scottish Advisory Committee on Alcohol Misuse) member Jean Coussins said: We must encourage the three key factors of personal responsibility, consistent law enforcement and responsible marketing practices by the industry, to achieve a culture whereby sensible drinking is the norm among those who choose to drink.' Paul Waterson, Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) spokesman, said: Although most Scots drink alcohol sensibly, excess drinking is on the increase - and the implications for health and public order are clear.'