Alcohol sales remain at lowest level for a second year

The study follows the introduction of minimum pricing for alcohol, which was introduced in 2018.

Alcohol sales in Scotland have remained at their lowest level on record for a second year, a study has found.

In 2019, a total of 9.9 litres of acohol was sold per adult, the equivalent of 19 units per person each week.

The annual Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland’s Alcohol Strategy (MESAS) report found sales were at the same level as 2018, maintaining the lowest level since recording began in 1994.

Minimum unit pricing came into force on May 1 2018 and requires all licensed premises in Scotland to set a floor price of 50p per unit of alcohol.

The average price of alcohol sold in Scottish supermarkets and off-licences rose to 62 pence per unit in 2019, up from 59 pence per unit in 2018.

Meanwhile, the volume of pure alcohol sold in Scotland was 9% higher than in England and Wales, representing the smallest difference since 2002.

Alcohol-specific death rates are consistently higher in Scotland than south of the border.

The rates are nearly twice as high for men and 87% higher for women.

The most recent figures for 2018 show 1,136 people died in Scotland due to a cause wholly attributable to alcohol.

Deaths in the 10% most deprived areas were more than four times higher than in the 10% least deprived areas.

Public Health Scotland, the agency that has taken over responsibility for MESAS, said too many people were exceeding the guidelines on alcohol despite the encouraging trends.

Lucie Giles, public health intelligence principal, said: “Population level alcohol consumption in Scotland has remained at the level the MESAS programme reported last year.

“Based on alcohol sales, average alcohol consumption in 2019 is estimated at 9.9 litres of pure alcohol per adult in Scotland.

“This is the lowest we have seen in the available data and maintains the smallest difference between Scotland and England & Wales since the early 2000s.

“Despite these encouraging trends, the most recent survey data shows that nearly a quarter of adults exceeded the revised low-risk weekly drinking guidelines, and that drinkers in the lowest income group are likely to consume more.”

She added: “An average of 22 people per week are still dying as a result of their alcohol consumption and again this is not spread evenly throughout the population – those in the most deprived areas are more likely to be hospitalised or die because of an alcohol-related cause.

“Like all harm caused by alcohol, this is preventable.

“Public Health Scotland will continue to monitor and evaluate Scotland’s alcohol strategy, so we can continue to gauge progress and understand what works to reduce the harm alcohol causes.”

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