Reducing harm caused by alcohol


Alcohol Focus Scotland welcomes new WHO report on alcohol pricing

Alcohol Focus Scotland welcomes new WHO report on alcohol pricing: Europe ignores cost-effective ways to lower health risks

According to the new WHO Europe report, “Alcohol pricing in the WHO European Region”, increasing the prices that consumers pay for alcohol is one of the most cost-effective tools available for policy-makers looking to reduce alcohol consumption and associated harm.

The report highlights minimum unit pricing as an approach that can reduce both alcohol consumption and health inequalities.

In response to the publication of the report, Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said,  “This report provides further evidence of the important role that minimum unit pricing can play in helping reduce the devastating impact of alcohol consumption on so many people’s lives.  Scotland should be proud of the role it has played in pioneering this policy, which other countries are now learning from. 

“Minimum unit pricing (MUP) is estimated to have reduced off-sales in Scotland by 4-5% in its first year of operation. It targets the cheap, high strength drinks favoured by heavier drinkers; some of these products – such as high strength ciders – are no longer stocked in many shops. 

“One of the key benefits of MUP that WHO highlights is that it can help to reduce health inequalities.  It is unfair and unacceptable that Scots living in our poorest communities are more than 4 times more likely to die, and 7 times more likely to be hospitalised, than those in our richest communities.  We need to address the fundamental issues that drive poverty and inequality, but MUP can make a contribution as it benefits poorer, heavier drinkers who are most at risk.

“There has been much discussion about the unequal impact of the coronavirus crisis as well as reports that many of us have been drinking more during lockdown.  It is crucial that our national recovery effort builds on the good work we have started in addressing Scotland’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol.  By addressing how readily available alcohol is, how heavily it is marketed, and by making sure support is there for those who need it, we can improve the lives of thousands of Scots and protect the NHS.”

The evidence in the new report demonstrates that well-chosen pricing policies can help countries not only lower alcohol consumption and associated health risks, but also benefit economies.

Read the full report.