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Section 10: Scotch Whisky and Health

Is alcohol good for health?

Yes. Research carried out in several countries has shown that drinking in moderation can be beneficial. This has been endorsed in a report by the British Medical Association which states that up to 30 grams of alcohol a day - the equivalent of four single whiskies - can help protect against heart disease. Alcohol can also help relieve stress and promote appetite and sleep. especially among the elderly. At the same time the Scotch Whisky Industry recognises that misuse of alcohol can not only damage health in a number of ways. but may cause domestic and financial problems.

How common is the misuse of alcohol?

The prevalence of alcohol related problems varies from country to country. In Britain the incidence of drunkenness, alcohol related illnesses and drunk driving is amongst the lowest in the world and official figures indicate that less than 2 per cent of those who drink alcoholic beverages have a drinking problem.

What can be done to prevent the misuse of alcohol?

The Scotch Whisky Industry believes that the best way of preventing the misuse of alcohol is by education in sensible and moderate drinking and that this education should start at an early age. Attempts to reduce alcohol related problems by imposing massive taxes on drink or introducing restrictions on its sale and availability only penalise the great majority who drink sensibly, without reaching the problem drinker. Where these restrictive measures have been applied they have led to social problems far worse than those they were intended to solve.

How does the Scotch Whisky Industry help in prevention?

For many years The Scotch Whisky Association and individual whisky companies have sponsored research aimed at discovering why it is that there are those who seem unable to control their drinking. It also sponsors educational programmes based on such research and targeted at those thought to be most at risk of misusing alcohol, for example young people and drivers who drink as well as at doctors. nurses and social workers, because they are in the best position to help the problem drinker.

© SWA 1995