A SYNTHETIC “hangover-free” alcohol product could have “seismic effects on public health”, a report from the Adam Smith Institute has claimed – but warns it is being blocked by government regulations.
The study said that the innovation, currently named “Alcosynth” could be up to 100 times safer than the real thing due to the lack of toxins. The new product gives the drinker the sensation of tipsiness without the loss of control.
The report, Sinnovation: How markets can solve public health problems, claims that “heavy-handed” EU and UK government regulations have held back the development of safer alternatives to drinking and smoking and says that public health officials pursuing abstinence campaigns to the detriment of risk-reduction products that could save thousands more lives every year. But alcohol campaigners warned increasing the price, reducing the availability and restricting the marketing of alcohol were more effective ways of reducing the impact of booze on Scottish society.
Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: “Scotland continues to experience the highest rates of alcohol harm in the UK, with 22 Scots dying every week last year due to alcohol. Steps are being taken to begin to turn the tide on this shocking picture but more must continue to be done to change the pro-alcohol culture in our country.
“The idea that a synthetic alcohol product could provide the same public health benefits is far from proven and given the scale of the problem we face, our efforts are much better spent on measures we know to work.”
The Adam Smith report said the introduction of e-cigarettes had been similarly hampered by regulation and pointed to rules which stop e-cigarette companies from marketing their health benefits in comparison to traditional tobacco-based forms of smoking.
It called for the UK Government to scrap the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive when Britain leaves the EU.
Sam Bowman, executive director of the Adam Smith Institute, said: “It’s innovation, not regulation, that got us e-cigarettes. They emerged and prospered in spite of regulation, proving to be the best way to get people to quit quickly that we know of.
“Other products like synthetic alcohol and reduced-risk tobacco products promise to repeat the success of e-cigs for new people, but only if we let them. It is crucial that the government does not stand in the way of hangover-free alcohol.
He added: “Regulation must be flexible and encouraging of new products that are safer than the vices they’re competing with.”