Minimum alcohol pricing a success

Alcohol

Figures show the impact minimum pricing has had since it was introduced last year 

19th June 2019 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Minimum pricing on alcohol sales in Scotland is having a “real impact” on the way Scotland drinks, according to leading charities.

Alcohol Focus said figures showing the lowest level of consumption since records began were hugely encouraging.

Expert analysis, released just over a year after Scotland became the first country in the world to introduce minimum unit pricing, showed a 3% fall in alcohol sales per adult from the previous 12 months.

The figure is at its lowest since 1994 and the gap compared to England and Wales was the smallest since 2002.

Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: “These initial figures are hugely encouraging and suggest the policy is having a real impact on the way we drink in Scotland.

“A reduction of 3% in average consumption in 2018 is great news for Scotland’s health and is in contrast to England and Wales, where consumption has increased.”

The report, from the Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland’s Alcohol Strategy programme (MESAS), showed a total of 44.7 million litres of pure alcohol were purchased in Scotland in 2018 with (73%) of sales made via supermarkets and off-sales, and the remaining 27% in pubs, clubs and restaurants.

But deaths from alcohol are still on the rise, with the NHS Health Scotland report showing 1120 deaths in 2017 were “wholly attributable to alcohol”, the equivalent of 22 people each week.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said of the new figures: “This is a promising start following our world-leading action to introduce minimum unit pricing, and with this 3% fall we are moving in the right direction.

“There are, on average, 22 alcohol-specific deaths every week in Scotland and 683 hospital admissions, and behind every one of these statistics is a person, a family, and a community badly affected by alcohol harm.

“Given the clear and proven link between consumption and harm, minimum unit pricing is the most effective and efficient way to tackle the cheap, high-strength alcohol that causes so much harm to so many families.”

Andrew Horne, director in Scotland for drug and alcohol charity Addaction, said: “It was a bold

decision by the Scottish Government to become the first country to introduce minimum unit pricing, and only a year down the line, it’s very pleasing to see that it’s already reaping rewards.