We will support national strategies and commitments in the Programme for Government by providing public health leadership and expertise to inform policy and practice around alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in Scotland, with a key focus on the economic and social conditions that can be a driver of harmful consumption.

Last year saw the number of drug-related deaths in Scotland reach the highest number recorded for the fifth year in a row. PHS will have an important role to play in responding to what Ministers have declared ‘a public health emergency’. We are going to set up a new team in order to provide a significant contribution to national and local actions around drug-related deaths.

We will also help to drive action to improve the health outcomes for people who use drugs through membership of and support for the National Drug Deaths Taskforce. Our support will include reviewing the evidence on drug treatment and engagement, developing a public health surveillance system for drug use and harm, and scoping the potential health benefits of changes to drug use legislation.

We will also take a rights-based approach and help to ensure that the voice of lived experience is included through participative methods of engagement and research.

Effective and innovative use of data and intelligence will be key. We will roll out the new Drug and Alcohol Information System (DAISy) which will support local and national decision making, inform national policy and practice development, offer the potential to join person-level data with other datasets, and provide timely information to support local service delivery and planning.

We will analyse and disseminate a range of data on the health impact of problem drug use (e.g. statistics on hospital stays, blood-borne viruses and drug-related deaths), on services and treatment for people who use drugs (e.g. statistics on individuals having used drug treatment services, as captured in the Scottish Drug Misuse Database and prescription statistics) and criminal justice and social harm (e.g. drug-related offences and court proceedings, problem drug use and treatment in prisons and social harm in neighbourhoods).

Our work on alcohol includes continuing to implement the evaluation plan for Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP), including managing the portfolio of studies that will establish the extent to which implementing MUP in Scotland contributes to reducing alcohol-related health and social harms and whether some people or businesses are more affected (positively or negatively) than others.

We will monitor key alcohol statistics and produce an annual monitoring report bringing together the latest data on alcohol sales, alcohol price, self-reported consumption, alcohol specific deaths, alcohol related hospitalisations, and social harms. The roll out of DAISy will enable reporting on an individual's journey through specialist treatment, including waiting times and will report on alcohol treatment services for the first time in Scotland.

Our work on tobacco includes conducting research to explore policy options to increase the price and reduce the availability of tobacco and identify what impact such policies could have on smoking prevalence. We will also explore data collection on prison Nicotine Replacement Treatment and e-cigarette quit attempts. In addition, expert advice and support will be provided through networks on smoking in pregnancy, smoke-free hospital grounds and prisons.

Specific examples of work in this area include:

  • Providing new evidence on drug-related health harms through the rollout of DAISy and the Scottish Public Health Drug Linkage Programme
  • Reporting on smoking cessation services and smoking attributable deaths
  • Reporting on the impact of MUP on the volume of alcohol sold in the Scottish offtrade at different prices, including comparison with England and Wales
Last updated: 28 June 2021
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