Health campaigners have called for the minimum price for alcohol to be upped to at least 65p per unit, insisting such a move could help save more lives.
Alcohol Focus Scotland made the plea ahead of the third anniversary of minimum unit pricing (MUP) being introduced.
Scotland was the first country in the world to bring in the public health measure on May 1, 2018 – but since then the minimum price alcohol can be sold at has not changed from the initial level of 50p a unit.
The policy only came into force after a lengthy legal challenge and the 50p level was first proposed by ministers back in 2012.
Alcohol Focus Scotland said if it had kept pace with inflation, the MUP would now be 61p.
It said evidence so far shows MUP appears to be having the intended effect, saying consumption of alcohol has fallen since it was introduced and hospital admissions for drink-related liver conditions have decreased.
A 10% fall in alcohol-related deaths in 2019, with 1020 fatalities compared to 1136 the previous year, is also cited as evidence that the policy is saving live.
The Scottish Government had been set to review the MUP after two years, but Alcohol Focus Scotland said this was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It is now calling on the next Scottish government to up the level to “at least” 65p, as well as committing to increasing it in line with inflation.
Alcohol Focus Scotland chief executive Alison Douglas said: “Minimum unit pricing is working. It has reduced alcohol consumption and there are early signs it is preventing illness and saving lives. But the policy has the potential to deliver even greater benefits.
“Now is the time to increase the minimum price to not only account for inflation since the Parliament approved MUP nine years ago, but also set it at a level that will save more lives and prevent a new generation from developing a problematic relationship with alcohol.
“We need the next Scottish government to increase the minimum unit price to at least 65p per unit and to future proof its positive effects by ensure that the price is increased in line with inflation.”