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Report supports case for Minimum Unit Pricing

Published: 25 May 2016 00:01

Amount of alcohol sold in Scotland is increasing.

Alcohol sales figures published today strengthen the case for minimum unit pricing, says the Public Health Minister.

The report from NHS Health Scotland shows the recent downward trend in the amount of alcohol sold per adult in Scotland has reversed.

This follows NHS Health Scotland's recent evaluation of the Scottish Government's alcohol strategy, which found that without minimum unit pricing – which has not yet been implemented due to a legal challenge by parts of the alcohol industry - the strategy's impact has been constrained.

In 2015, 10.8 litres of pure alcohol was sold per adult in Scotland – equivalent to 41 bottles of vodka, 116 bottles of wine or 476 pints of beer. Alcohol sales in Scotland were 20 per cent higher than in England and Wales.

Almost three-quarters (74%) of alcohol sold in Scotland was sold in supermarkets and off-licences and more than half of that (51%) was sold at less than 50p per unit, the minimum unit price sought by the Scottish Government.

Minister for Public Health and Sport, Aileen Campbell said:

"We remain absolutely committed to introducing minimum unit pricing and this report adds to the wealth of evidence which supports this policy. We also welcome the fact that the European courts have returned this matter to the Scottish courts for a final decision.

"Around 22 people a week are dying in Scotland because of alcohol and despite recent reductions; deaths have increased for the last two years. Given the link between consumption and harm, and evidence that affordability is one of the drivers of increased consumption, addressing price is essential.

"Prices in pubs, bars and restaurants are increasing, but prices in shops are staying the same. We know that more than half of the alcohol – and almost three-quarters of vodka – sold in supermarkets and off-licences cost under 50p per unit. It is that cheap, high-strength alcohol that is causing the most harm in Scotland.

"We will introduce the next phase of our Alcohol Framework later this year which will build on the progress so far but addressing price must play a key part of any long-term strategy to tackle alcohol misuse."

Notes to editors

Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland's Alcohol Strategy (MESAS): Annual update of alcohol sales and price band analyses can be found here: www.healthscotland.com/documents/27345.aspx