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Eric Carlin

12, Queen Street
Edinburgh, Scotland, EH2 1JQ

Tel: (0044) 131 247 3665



Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP)

SHAAP was established in 2006 by the Scottish Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties to raise awareness about alcohol-related harm and to promote solutions based on the best available evidence. It operates as an Advocacy Body to provide a coordinated, coherent and authoritative medical voice on reducing the impact of alcohol-related harm on the health and well-being of the people of Scotland.

Objectives and Aims:

  • To raise awareness about the burden of harm caused by alcohol with practitioners, policy makers and the public.
  • To review current research and undertake new research to identify and promote effective interventions based on the best available evidence.
  • To influence policy by advocating for effective policy measures formulated by public health interest.
  • To establish links and partnerships with key organisations in the alcohol field in Scotland, the rest of the UK and worldwide to advocate for effective alcohol policy.


SHAAP is governed by an Executive Committee made up of members of the Scottish Medical Royal Colleges and a member from the Royal College of Nurses. (See Governance document for membership). SHAAP has two paid staff members that provide the secretariat for SHAAP’s Executive Committee and undertake project work.

Main Activities:

To date, SHAAP has focussed on raising awareness of the nature and extent of harm linked to alcohol use in Scotland, and has sought to highlight evidence-based measures to prevent and reduce this harm. SHAAP has played a key role in encouraging policy action by government and in building support for such measures.

Our research and events have been influential and effective in focussing debate on policy that will work to reduce alcohol consumption.

Most notably SHAAP reviewed the evidence in relation to the link between price, consumption and alcohol-related harm and proposed a range of cost-effective policy measures which could be introduced to reduce the level of harm (Alcohol: Price, Policy and Public Health, September 2007 ). This report also included a legal opinion that minimum pricing introduced in the interest of the public health would not contravene EU or UK competition Law.

Central to this report was the measure of minimum unit pricing, which has subsequently been adopted as policy by the Scottish Government. SHAAP supported minimum pricing during the legislative process for the Alcohol etc. (Scotland) Act 2010, from which this measure was ultimately dropped, and worked to build wider cross-party recognition of the link between price, consumption and harm (“Getting the Price of Alcohol Right” November 2010). As a result of our activities, there has been a significant policy shift in recognising price as a central component of alcohol policy and the need to adopt a whole population approach to minimise the harm which alcohol causes to health and well-being.

SHAAP has also been instrumental in influencing intervention and treatment options and convened a well-attended national event which identified barriers within the NHS to the implementation of Brief Interventions. The findings from the event were subsequently developed into a resource which informed the national roll-out of brief interventions in practice. This proved extremely popular with over five thousand copies being distributed. (Screening and brief interventions for risky and harmful drinking, 2008)

In 2011 SHAAP held an expert workshop on Alcohol and Cancer: Raising Awareness that reviewed and discussed the epidemiology of alcohol and cancer and highlighted the need to raise both professional and public awareness of the links between alcohol consumption and cancer. A publication Alcohol and Cancer Risk will be published later this year.

Articles and Publications:

Organized events:

As part of its core business, SHAAP organises workshops, conferences and briefings on alcohol-related issues. This has included:

  • A conference about overcoming barriers to delivering Alcohol Brief Interventions in the Scottish Health Service
  • Expert seminars involving Professors Ton Babor, Robin Room and Scottish Public Health professionals
  • A meeting for Parliamentarians at the Scottish Parliament on Minimum Pricing of Alcohol
  • An expert seminar on Alcohol and Cancer Risk