Health Harming Products: Public Health Action Beyond COVID-19

This is a public health event. Discussion will be relevant to those working in the public and third sectors. If you are a private organisation, please contact us directly using the ‘Get in touch’ tab below.

NCDs, such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes, are the leading cause of mortality in Scotland. In 2020, NCDs were responsible for more than 40,000 deaths. (Source: BHF

Reducing levels of obesity, alcohol consumption and tobacco use are key if we are to see any significant drop in non-communicable disease (NCD) deaths in Scotland. This has been acknowledged by government, the public health community and, indeed, wider society for many years now. However, with obesity and the use of alcohol and tobacco thought to increase the risk of severe COVID-19, the case for further preventative population level action has been strengthened.

As the new parliamentary term begins – and following publication of a new NCD prevention report by leading health charities – this event provided delegates with a timely opportunity to discuss what further steps need to be taken in relation to the availability, marketing and pricing and promotion of unhealthy products.

Sponsored by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) Scotland, it brought together key stakeholders from across public health, academia and the third sector, in a bid to drive forward positive, meaningful change.

We concluded the day with a cross-party panel, with representatives already confirmed from the SNP, Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Labour, Scottish Greens and the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

This event is CPD certified in principle.

Alex Cole-Hamilton has been leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats since August 2021, and is the party's health spokesperson. He was first elected at the 2016 Scottish Parliament Elections for the constituency of Edinburgh Western gaining the seat from the SNP.

"Evidence shows a clear link between the increased availability of tobacco, alcohol and HFSS food in communities and worse health outcomes in those communities.” (Source: BHF)

In this first panel session, we will discuss what more needs to be done to decrease availability of such products, including further regulation and improved registration arrangements.

“Shoppers who buy the largest proportion of their shopping on promotion are 28% more likely to be obese than low promotional shoppers.” (Source: BHF)

With the Restricting Foods Promotions bill delayed due to COVID-19, here panellists will look at why its introduction should be priority in this Parliament. They will also consider the case for both raising the minimum unit price for alcohol and introducing minimum/maximum unit pricing for tobacco products.

“As we have seen with tobacco over many years, regulating the content and the extent of marketing is a vital part of a whole systems approach to de-normalising their use.” (Source: BHF)

In our closing session, we will explore the changes that could and should be made in relation to the marketing of health-harming products, including restrictions and regulation. The positive role that mass media campaigns can play in public health messaging will also form part of the discussion.

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