Reducing harm caused by alcohol


Lowest alcohol sales in 25 years

In the MESAS Monitoring report published today we saw encouraging signs that minimum unit pricing could be making a difference. In 2018, 9.9 litres of pure alcohol were sold per adult in Scotland, equivalent to 19.0 units per adult per week. This is the lowest level seen in Scotland since 1994.

The volume of pure alcohol sold in Scotland in 2018 was 9% higher than in England & Wales, the smallest difference since 2003. This is primarily due to the most recent data point; between 2017 and 2018 per adult sales fell in Scotland while they rose in England & Wales.

In response to the report Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said, "These initial figures on the amount of alcohol sold per head of population since minimum unit price (MUP) was introduced 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, who don’t have MUP, where consumption has increased.

“There is every reason to remain confident that, as with the smoking ban, this progressive policy will significantly improve our health and the well-being of our families and communities.  But, as with tobacco control, 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 every week of the year.  We need to build on minimum pricing with action to control availability and restrict marketing if we are to change Scotland’s relationship with alcohol for good.” 

Read the full MESAS Monitoring report.