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    Scotland says alcohol minimum unit pricing has ‘positive impact’ on health

    Photo: ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images

    A report from Public Health Scotland has concluded that the nation’s minimum unit pricing (MUP) policy on alcohol sales had a ‘positive impact’ on health, saving lives and reducing hospital admissions.

    In the final report of a series, researchers said that ‘robust, independent evaluation’ and the best-available, wide-ranging evidence drawing on 40 independent research publications, showed that MUP has been effective in its main goal of reducing alcohol harm with the reduction in deaths and hospital admissions specific to the timing of MUP implementation.

    This follows a study published in March by PHS and University of Glasgow showing MUP reduced alcohol consumption by 3 per cent, deaths directly caused by alcohol consumption by 13.4 per cent and hospital admissions by 4.1 per cent, compared to what would have happened if MUP had not been in place.

    Drugs and Alcohol Policy Minister Elena Whitham has welcomed the findings.

    “We’re determined to do all we can to reduce alcohol-related harm and, as this research demonstrates, our world-leading policy is saving lives, reducing alcohol harms and hospital admissions. Just one life lost to alcohol-related harm is one too many and my sympathy goes to all those who have lost a loved one,” Whitham said.

    She noted that MUP has also contributed to reducing health inequalities.

    “The study found the largest reductions in deaths and hospital admissions wholly attributable to alcohol consumption were seen in men and those living in the 40 per cent most deprived areas,” she said.

    “We know that additional support is needed for some groups, including those dealing with alcohol dependence and issues such as homelessness. That’s why, alongside MUP, last year £106.8 million was made available to Alcohol and Drugs Partnerships to support local and national initiatives. We will now carefully consider this research as part of ongoing work on reviewing MUP.”

    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.

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