Reducing harm caused by alcohol


Alcohol sales fall in first year of MUP

Today (Tuesday 28 January 2020) NHS Health Scotland published the first analysis of off-trade alcohol sales over the 12 months following the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP). The analysis shows that the volume of pure alcohol sold per adult in Scotland fell by 3.6%.

Compared to the 12 months which preceded implementation of MUP in May 2018, the volume of pure alcohol sold per adult in the off-trade in Scotland decreased from 7.4 to 7.1 litres. In England & Wales – where MUP has not been implemented – the volume of pure alcohol sold in the off-trade during the same year increased from 6.3 to 6.5 litres. 

In Scotland post-MUP sales of cider per adult fell the most (down 18.6%), while sales of spirits fell by 3.8%, and sales of beer remained relatively stable (down 1.1%). Sales of cider, spirits and beer all increased in England & Wales over the same time period. Fortified wine was the only drink category in which per adult sales in Scotland increased post-MUP.

Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said, “A reduction of 3.6% in alcohol consumption in the first 12 months following the introduction of MUP is great news for Scotland’s health. Particularly significant is the contrast to England and Wales, who don’t have MUP, where sales of alcohol have increased in the same time period.

“It’s encouraging to see that, as expected, consumers appear to be buying less cheap, high strength cider. Other research studies suggest that consumers are switching to smaller size packs and lower strength products.  Even a small reduction in the amount of alcohol consumed in Scotland will mean fewer lives damaged by or lost to drink.  

“Increasing the price of alcohol is one of the most effective and cost-effective policy measures to reduce alcohol consumption and harm. Even with these promising results, due to inflation, the effectiveness of the 50p minimum unit price is likely to have declined in the seven years or so since the Parliament approved the legislation, so we’re pleased that the Scottish Government have committed to reviewing the price after the second anniversary to ensure the benefits are fully realised.”

“We must also recognise that one measure alone will not be sufficient; Scots are still drinking enough for every adult to exceed the Chief Medical Officers’ low-risk drinking guidelines by a third on every week of the year.  We need to build on minimum pricing with action to control how widely available and how heavily marketed alcohol is if we are to change Scotland’s relationship with drink for good.”

Read the full report and the summary briefing from NHS Health Scotland.

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