Alcohol Focus Scotland

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Alcohol badge.jpg This article is part of the Spinwatch public health oriented Alcohol Portal project.
Alcohol Focus Scotland Logo[1]

Alcohol Focus Scotland is Scotland's national charity for alcohol issues. The organisation's ambitious aim is to improve "the quality of people’s lives by changing Scotland’s drinking culture – promoting responsible drinking behaviour and discouraging drinking to excess...Our work involves providing information and training on alcohol issues, raising awareness of alcohol-related problems, and working to influence national alcohol policy".[2]

Alcohol Focus Scotland (ASF) decided in an executive committee meeting in September 2010 to stop accepting funding from the alcohol industry.[3] The alcohol charity will continue to work with the drinks industry through the ServeWise training programme. The decision to refuse direct alcohol industry funding was attacked by alcohol industry figures. The rift between AFS and the industry was also exacerbated when AFS ran an event with ASH Scotland, the anti-smoking charity, that excluded industry figures. This sparked fears in the alcohol industry that AFS's position could mirror the successes of the anti-tobacco lobby. [4] Diageo argued that the decision demonstrated Alcohol Focus Scotland's unwillingness to work in partnership with the industry to tackle alcohol related harm. [5] Diageo had reportedly donated over £140,000 to the charity between 2005-2010 and claimed to be withdrawing funding after AFS announced it would no longer accept it. Diageo's head of corporate social responsibility Mark Baird told The Morning Advertiser:

FirstAid.png This article is part of the Health Portal project of Spinwatch.
"We are very disappointed at the way our partnership with Alcohol Focus Scotland has come to an end. Over the past six years we have :provided over £140,000 of financial support to the charity, but more importantly we have strongly supported its policy objectives of :promoting responsible drinking, reducing alcohol-related harm and changing Scotland's culture in relation to alcohol.We also believe it is :misleading and unjustified to suggest that alcohol and tobacco should be treated in the same way with regard to public-health policies and :we strongly believe the recent moves by AFS to associate the two are a serious mistake that cannot go unchallenged." [6]

The chief executive of the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) Neil Robertson, who also run training programmes for the trade also attacked AFS's decision. In an interview with Scottish Licensed Trade News :"It’s just an astonishing statement to make and it’s so backward. I really hope that the Scottish Government is not going to go down the :same line. We met with Nicola Sturgeon (Scottish Health Minister) recently and we got a sense that there was a partnership to be had :there...And that’s been my impression – I think some of the Scottish policies have been forward-thinking and progressive, but this kind of :activity is just ridiculous. It’s actually not credible either. To try and make alcohol the new tobacco doesn’t fit with the view of the :Scottish people who know that alcohol can be enjoyed responsibly. It’s out of touch, and it’s extreme." [7]

In the same article the Scottish Licensed Trade News also reported "Fears that the health lobby was taking a harder line on alcohol also grew after AFS held a joint conference on the direction of alcohol policy with ASH, the anti-smoking group, whose powerful lobbying was said to have been instrumental in bringing about the smoking ban in 2006".[8]


ServeWise provides training for the licensed trade on order to set professional, responsible standards for all those involved in the sale of alcohol in both off and on trade settings. The training of staff who sell alcohol is a prominent part of the new Scottish Licensing act (2005). In particular it is hoped that improved training will assist in reducing problems such as under-age drinking, drink-driving, binge drinking and alcohol-related crime and disorder. Alcohol Focus Scotland won tenders to develop Responsible Service of Alcohol Guides for International Center for Alcohol Policies and the European Forum for Responsible Drinking. [9]




  1. Alcohol Focus Scotland Alcohol Focus Scotland Logo accessed 5th October 2011
  2. Alcohol Focus Scotland Website Home Page Last accessed March 27th 2008
  3. Alcohol Focus Scotland, AFS: Funding no date given, accessed 5th October 2010
  4. Scott Wright, BII chief attacks alcohol charity 28th April 2011, Scottish Licensed Trade News accessed 5th October 2011
  5. Scott Wright, BII chief attacks alcohol charity 28th April 2011, Scottish Licensed Trade News accessed 5th October 2011
  6. Lesley Foottit, Diageo severs ties with Alcohol Focus Scotland group The Morning Advertiser, 17th March 2011, accessed 5th October 2011
  7. Scott Wright, BII chief attacks alcohol charity 28th April 2011, Scottish Licensed Trade News accessed 5th October 2011
  8. Scott Wright, BII chief attacks alcohol charity 28th April 2011, Scottish Licensed Trade News accessed 5th October 2011
  9. Alcohol Focus Scotland Annual Report 2007/2008 accessed 22nd February 2010