Minimum Unit Pricing has cut alcohol sales in Scotland: study

alcohol license
REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish Public Health Minister Maree Todd said Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) “is achieving one of its key aims” after a new report concluded that it has been effective in cutting alcohol consumption.

Looking at the first three years since introduction, new research by Public Health Scotland and Glasgow University has concluded that the policy is reducing overall sales.

The report shows a 3 per cent net reduction in total alcohol sales in the first three years of implementation, even after taking into account of other factors such as the impact of the pandemic on alcohol sales, seasonal variations, existing trends, household income and comparison with England and Wales where MUP was not in place.

A minimum price of 50p per unit was introduced in Scotland in May 2018, becoming one of the first countries in the world to introduce minimum alcohol pricing. The policy has later rolled out across Wales in March 2020.

“Minimum unit pricing is achieving what it set out to do – a reduction in sales overall with a focus on the cheap high-strength alcohol, which is often drunk by people drinking at harmful levels. Further studies on MUP, including a final evaluation report, which is due next year, will examine how MUP has impacted on alcohol harms,” Todd said.

The level of minimum unit pricing is currently under review and a consultation on restrictions on the marketing of alcohol to help drive down hazardous consumption is also underway. In addition, the ministers are reviewing Scotland’s Alcohol Brief Interventions Programme which aims to motivate people to cut down on drinking.