CRESH-created system maps density of sales outlets to support health research
A Scottish research team has launched an interactive web map to show the density of tobacco and alcohol outlets, along with related health outcomes, for neighbourhoods across the country.
The Centre for Research into Environment, Society and Health (CRESH), a collaboration between the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, has set up the site and made the underlying data available for downloading and reuse.
It created the web map in a partnership with Alcohol Focus Scotland and Action on Smoking and Health Scotland, and received research funding from the Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy and the Economic and Social Research Council.
It gathered the data on the addresses of outlets from the licensing boards of Scotland’s 32 local authorities over nine months and had to translate them into a consistent format.
Announcing the launch of the map on its website, CRESH said: “Highlighting the links between alcohol and tobacco availability and health is important because tobacco and alcohol use are two of the most important causes of preventable ill health and death in Scotland.
“We wanted to make the data on outlet density and related health outcomes available to everybody.”
It added: “Any alcohol strategy must address the way in which local environments can enable or constrain drinking behaviour. Given our research we know that the local retail environment is important.
“Via our webmap local community groups, individuals and decision makers will now have the data on their local areas enabling them to get more involved in the licensing process.”
It also called for the Scottish Government to collect the data centrally and make it more readily available in future.
The call has been the subject of debate in the Scottish Parliament. Dr Richard Simpson, the MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, recently said there should be a national register of licensed premises and off licences to support local communities that fear there are too many in their areas.
In response, justice secretary Michael Matheson said the Scottish Government is working on the business case for a national online licensing solution, and that Police Scotland is rolling out a national Inn Keeper database.