The amount of alcohol being consumed in Scotland has declined since the introduction of minimum unit pricing (MUP), new data has revealed.
A report produced by Public Health Scotland, in collaboration with Glasgow University, shows there was a reduction in per adult sales of alcohol from supermarkets and off-licences of between four and five per cent – when compared to England and Wales – in the year since MUP came into effect.
The MUP policy was introduced in May 2018.
Lucie Giles, public health intelligence principal at Public Health Scotland, said the greatest reductions were seen in sales of cider and perry.
“There were smaller relative reductions in sales of spirits and beer – but as they account for a considerable share of the off-trade market, they make an important contribution to the reduction overall,” she said.
“These reductions were partly offset by off-trade sales of wine, fortified wine and ready-to-drink beverages, which this analysis found to have increased in the year post-MUP. Over the same period in England and Wales, per adult alcohol sales increased.”
The analysis builds on an earlier report which described a fall in per adult off-trade sales in the year following MUP implementation.
Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said it was encouraging to see further evidence that MUP appeared to be changing drinking habits for the better.
“A reduction of between four and five per cent in off-sales in the 12 months following the introduction of MUP is really significant. It is also clear that it is the high strength, low-cost drinks, favoured by heavier drinkers, which we are drinking less of,” she said.
“However, we can’t become complacent. While increasing the price of alcohol is one of the most effective and cost-effective policy measures to reduce alcohol consumption and harm, one measure alone will not be sufficient.
“In Scotland we are still drinking enough for every adult to exceed the chief medical officers’ low-risk drinking guidelines by a third on every week of the year. For some of us, the pressure of lockdown and social distancing may mean we are drinking more.”