- Challenge and Change: Rod Anderson
- Parliament must come together to renew and reinvigorate MUP
- A responsible drinking campaign that features cocktail recipes
- Unacceptable rise in alcohol-specific deaths
- Health experts share concerns about complaint made on MUP evaluation
- Decline in alcohol treatment in Scotland
- Challenge and Change: Lived Experience Voices on Alcohol Marketing
- Blog post for Alcohol Awareness Week 2023
- Final verdict on MUP
- Alcohol and diabetes
- Doctors say lack of response on alcohol deaths could spell disaster for Scotland
- MUP reduces deaths and hospital admissions
- Alcohol hospital admissions continue to be too high
- Lessons learned from countries with marketing restrictions
- What is the effect of alcohol marketing on people with or at risk of an alcohol problem?
- ONS figures show highest alcohol deaths on record
- MUP and alcohol sales
- Scottish Government launches alcohol marketing consultation
- MUP and alcohol products and prices
- Scottish Health Survey 2021
- New licensing policy review guide
- Slight increase in alcohol-specific deaths
- Health campaigners call on Scottish Government to regulate alcohol packaging
- Scottish charity calls for ban on all alcohol promotion
- New NCD Prevention Report - Mapping Future Harm
- Online Alcohol Sales & Deliveries: A survey of young people in Scotland
- Four years of MUP
- Prominent health warnings make drinking “unappealing”
- Insights from People in Recovery
- Meet our Engagement Team Marc
- Meet our Engagement Team Megan
- Report on alcohol sales and harm in Scotland during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Sugar content in wine revealed
- Alcohol hospital admissions lower during pandemic
- Study reveals those already at risk from heavy drinking bought more alcohol during lockdowns
- Alcohol policy measures could reduce ambulance callouts
- 18.6% increase in deaths from alcohol in 2020
- Widespread support for calls to increase minimum unit price for alcohol to 65p
- Students as Change Agents
- Health charities call for action to save lives from Scotlands biggest killers
- Three quarters of Scots back new controls to help protect children from alcohol advertising
- Alcohol-specific deaths in Scotland increase
- More accurate estimates for the burden of Alcohol on the Ambulance Service: around 1 in 6 callouts in Scotland are alcohol related
- How can alcohol labels be improved to help people make informed consumption choices
- Health experts call for better alcohol labelling
- Young people and their views on alcohol marketing
- Lowest alcohol sales in Scotland for 26 years
- Minimum unit pricing has lasting impact study shows
- Euros renews call for action to protect children from alcohol sports sponsorship
- Current alcohol labelling of little relevance to young adult drinkers
- Governments should step up efforts to tackle harmful alcohol consumption
- Scottish public and leading health experts back changes to alcohol labelling
- AFS calls for 65p minimum unit price for alcohol
- How will the main parties prevent harm from alcohol?
- Alcohol labelling reform is way past its sell by date
- Alcohol policy priorities for the next parliament
- Young drinkers believe prominent health warnings on alcohol could boost risk awareness
- Alcohol and the Workplace Effective Interventions
- Alcohol sales and consumption in Scotland during the pandemic
- How can we prevent alcohol deaths?
- Alcohol Deaths and Minimum Unit Pricing
- YoungScot Health Panel report on alcohol marketing and harm
- Young Scots show support for restrictions on alcohol marketing
- New release of alcohol related hospital admissions
- Better alcohol labelling – A way to boost awareness of the risk between alcohol and cancer?
- NICE Guidelines on FASD Surveillance or Support?
- Alcohol Deaths Prevention Support
- Almost half of Scots in favour of minimum unit pricing
- Leading health charities call for action in Scotland
- Health experts campaign for better understanding of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
- Health experts call for alcohol labelling overhaul
- Australian ministers agree to visible pregnancy warning
- Alcohol Focus Scotland welcomes new WHO report on alcohol pricing
- Survey shows Scots lockdown drinking rise caused by stress
- Statistical analysis of off-trade alcohol sales in the year following MUP
- Alcohol Focus Scotland Review of statements of licensing policy 2018 to 2023
- We need to continue long-term focus on alcohol
- Scots report changing drinking patterns during coronavirus lockdown
- Time to Blow the Whistle on Alcohol Sport Sponsorship
- New evidence demonstrates that alcohol ads lead to youth drinking
- Alcohol sales fall in first year of MUP
- First study published into under 18 drinkers post MUP
- Commission on Alcohol Harm calls for evidence
- Two years on Are annual functions reports reaching their potential?
- We need to do more to protect our children and young people
- New Alcohol Deaths Prevention Support Now Available from AFS
- Scottish primary children call for action on alcohol
- Its time to tell us whats in our drinks
- A home for Rory
- Making a bad impression - blog post
- Alcohol marketing and children debate in the Scottish Parliament
- Alcohol sales and MUP
- Lowest alcohol sales in 25 years
- Research into fall in violence
- The Children's Parliament investigates an alcohol-free childhood
- Minimum unit pricing one year on
- More about sales data
- A family of resources it is all about prevention, education and resilience
- AFS publish Review of Licensing Board Annual Functions Reports 2017-2018
- Marketing unmasked dispelling the myths and taking a stand
- No place for alcohol marketing in sport
- Scotland publishes first UK guidelines for diagnosing fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD)
- The Alcohol Framework 2018 Preventing Harm
- Scotlands new drug and alcohol strategy launched
- AFS welcome new alcohol strategy
- Recent reporting on alcohol sales data
- Diageo is failing to provide latest guidelines on their products
- Drinks companies keeping consumers in dark about risky drinking
- Reducing alcohol consumption can address health inequalities
- Global first alcohol policy set to save hundreds of Scots' lives
- AFS welcomes minimum unit pricing for alcohol
- Truer picture of alcohol harm revealed
- Alcohol causes 3,700 deaths in Scotland every year
- Scotland's licensing system needs clearer direction
- Minimum pricing blog
- Minimum pricing gets green light
- Alcohol brands and young people
- Time for honest conversations about alcohol
- Q&A on alcohol marketing
- UK children anxious about parents' drinking
- Alcohol producers failing to inform public
- Concern over alcohol-related deaths
- We need to make it easier for people to drink less
- Worrying rise in alcohol-related deaths
- Minimum pricing will save lives
- Pocket money prices for alcohol continue
- Scotland's alcohol problem laid bare
- Cheap alcohol is costing Scotland dear
- One drink a day can increase breast cancer risk
- Poverty linked to increased harm from alcohol
- What next for reducing alcohol harm in Scotland?
- Scotland must do more to turn tide of alcohol harm
- Concern as funding for alcohol services cut
- Scottish Government urged to curb alcohol marketing
- Consumers have the right to know health risks
- Alcohol-free childhood is healthiest option
- SWA granted leave to appeal minimum pricing
- Scottish Greens call for action on alcohol marketing
- SWA will appeal to UK Supreme Court
- SWA urged to respect minimum pricing decision
- Minimum pricing can be implemented in Scotland
- AFS welcomes revised alcohol consumption guidelines
- Emergency services face shocking levels of alcohol abuse
- Every child has the right to grow up safe from alcohol harm
- New toolkit to help children affected by family alcohol problems
- Alcohol campaigners unite to call for stronger protection from alcohol advertising to children
- No completely 'safe' level of drinking
- New alcohol guidelines published
- Minimum pricing - European court ruling
- Alcohol: a global concern
We need to continue long-term focus on alcohol
Among the many profound changes to our lives in 2020, the way in which we access and consume alcohol is also significantly changing. In recent weeks we have seen the closure of pubs, bars and restaurants. Meanwhile, rising sales of alcohol in supermarkets, off-licences and online show that many of us are drinking at home. Recent polling from Alcohol Focus Scotland and Alcohol Change UK has shown that it is those of us who were drinking more to begin with who have increased our intake during lockdown.
Scotland already had an alcohol problem. That’s why we took the bold step to introduce minimum unit pricing (MUP) two years ago, to improve our health and that of our children. While the full effect of minimum unit pricing won’t be seen for 20 years, we should be proud of this global first. The evidence we are seeing already gives us cause for optimism that minimum unit pricing appears to be having an effect on how much we drink and this should translate into improvements in health and well-being.
That gives hope that, in future, fewer families will have to suffer the devastating loss of a loved one due to alcohol in future.
The most encouraging signs so far are the decrease in consumption and off-sales. The annual Monitoring and Evaluation of Scotland’s Alcohol Strategy (MESAS) report in 2019 showed the biggest drop in consumption in 25 years. Figures from a study looking at sales-based consumption in the first year of MUP show that Scotland bought 3.6% less alcohol from off-sales than in the previous year. This was in contrast to England and Wales, who didn’t have MUP, where off-sales purchases went up by 3.2% (Wales has since introduced minimum pricing, in March 2020). This comparison with England and Wales is really important as it provides a control. When you look at data from before the introduction of MUP, Scotland has consistently bought more alcohol per person than England and Wales. Such a big change suggests that minimum unit pricing is having an impact.
The most encouraging signs so far are the decrease in consumption and off-sales.
Beneath the headline sales figures there are also some interesting shifts happening in what people are buying which suggest that MUP is having the expected effects. People are buying less high-strength cider, which prior to MUP retailed for as little as 18p per unit, leading some stores to stop stocking some products. Producers have reduced pack sizes or reduced the strength of some products, suggesting that they know consumers are price sensitive and that they are looking for products at certain price points. Both of these are positive from a policy perspective as they suggest that MUP is changing both supply and demand. We would like to see those companies who profit from the sale of alcohol be required to provide data on their sales, to provide a fuller picture of what is sold and where, instead of taxpayers’ money having to be spent to purchase this information from market research companies.
The “theory of change” behind minimum pricing, is that an increase in price will reduce consumption, which, in turn, will lead to reductions in harm. The main measures of harm are alcohol specific deaths and alcohol-related hospital admissions. While we haven’t yet seen any change in the rate of deaths from alcohol following minimum unit pricing (MUP), this is not overly concerning as it seems reasonable to assume that the effect on deaths would lag behind the reduction in consumption. Interestingly, although overall hospital admissions have not gone down, there are some positive signs that the number of people admitted due to alcoholic liver disease has decreased since MUP was introduced – particularly amongst people living in our poorer communities. This is important because people in our more deprived communities suffer the greatest harm – they are eight times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of drinking.
Young people were one group we thought might be price-sensitive and be impacted by minimum unit pricing. However, a study of around 50 young people who were drinking prior to MUP found that, for them, price was not a major consideration. Many of the products they favoured were already being sold above 50p per unit before MUP was introduced and they did not report changes in how much they were drinking or the products they chose to drink. The main influences on their alcohol use were friends, parents and carers. It’s important to note that the study was designed to help understand the lived experience of the 50 or so young people who took part and is not generalisable to all young people in Scotland. More widely across Scotland we have seen a reduction in how much young people are drinking since the early 2000s.
Contrary to arguments from the alcohol industry, an initial study into the impact on the producers, retailers and wholesalers has shown that they are reporting little change. The Scottish Government estimated that MUP would increase off-trade revenue by over £40m per annum. So far retailers and producers have not reported this type of windfall, however, an independent assessment needs to be made. Any additional profits as a result of MUP should be used to help offset the significant costs faced by our NHS, police and local authorities in dealing with alcohol-related harm.
Any additional profits as a result of MUP should be used to help offset the significant costs faced by our NHS, police and local authorities in dealing with alcohol-related harm.
It also worth noting that some of the negative consequences which some in the industry had claimed would result from the introduction of MUP - such as thousands of Scots driving to England to buy their alcohol, a substantial increase in illicit alcohol sales and the levying of punitive tariffs on Scotch by other countries - have not come to pass. Meanwhile slowly but surely other countries are following Scotland with Wales and the Northern Territories of Australia have already implemented it and the Republic of Ireland having passed legislation on it.
There are many more specific studies to come over the next few years. These will look at a range of impacts including on crime and public safety, on people already drinking heavily before MUP, the children and young people affected by parent or carer drinking, further investigations into the effect on retailers and the economy. There will also be several more years of routine data to come on consumption, deaths and hospital admissions.
It remains to be seen what impact social distancing will have and what new challenges it will throw up. But it seems unlikely that Scotland’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol will be changed for the better. The Scottish government has a strong track record in tackling alcohol harm and it will be important that they continue to prioritise the nation’s health and wellbeing as part of our longer-term recovery.
Alison Douglas, Chief Executive
Find out more about why minimum unit pricing was introduced in Scotland and the evaulation and evidence so far.