AFS welcomes HSCSC vote in favour of increasing MUP

MUP graphicThe Health, Social Care and Sport Committee yesterday (26th March) voted in favour of retaining and uprating the minimum unit price for alcohol to 65p. The vote was held following an evidence session with the Minister for Drugs and Alcohol Policy, Christina McKelvie MSP and passed with a substantial majority with eight votes in favour and two against.

The policy will now be subject to a final vote in the Scottish Parliament before the end of April. If approved by Scottish Parliament, a new MUP of 65p per unit will be in place from 30 September 2024.

The Committee’s decision came on a day when Public Health Scotland released figures showing the true scale of alcohol harm, with 2820 people estimated to die from alcohol each year when deaths from conditions such as alcohol-related cancers and cardiovascular disease are counted. This is more than twice as high as alcohol-specific death figures that are reported annually.

More new statistics highlight the persistent gap in alcohol-related health outcomes between our most and least deprived communities, showing that people living in Scotland’s most deprived communities are 5.5 times more likely to die of chronic liver disease, with over 70% of these fatalities caused by alcohol.

Responding to the news, Alison Douglas, CEO of Alcohol Focus Scotland said:

“Yesterday’s vote was another big step forward towards renewing and uprating the minimum unit price (MUP) for alcohol to 65p per unit, and we’re delighted that there is strong cross-party support for this policy.

“Given that the independent evaluation of MUP found that it has saved 156 lives and averted 411 hospital admissions per year, and these benefits have been felt most in deprived communities, we now urge the Scottish Parliament to press ahead with voting in favour of this policy.

“Ensuring that Scotland continues to prioritise measures to prevent and reduce alcohol harm has never been more needed. Alcohol deaths have been increasing in recent years, with the Covid pandemic having played a major role. We are clear that MUP is not enough to turn the tide of alcohol harm by itself. It is of vital importance that the government also proceeds at pace with introducing policies that reduce the availability, affordability and visibility of alcohol – whilst increasing investment in, and access to, treatment.

“We also fully support the introduction of a public health levy on retailers so that any additional profits generated by the increase in MUP are reinvested in helping those worst affected by alcohol harm.”

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The figures

deaths in 2022 due to conditions caused solely by alcohol