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17/07/13 15:29

Minimum price for alcohol

Scotland "will not turn its back" on minimum pricing.

Commenting on the Department of Health's announcement on minimum pricing, Health Secretary Alex Neil said:

“The Scottish Government will not turn its back on the overwhelming evidence that underpins minimum pricing for alcohol and standardised packaging for cigarettes.

“We also now have strong evidence from Canada to show that minimum pricing will reduce consumption and hence alcohol-related harm.

“We remain committed to delivering minimum pricing in order to save lives and reduce the harm caused by alcohol misuse, and, while the UK Government’s decision not to proceed is very disappointing, it will have no impact on the Scottish Government's approach to the policy.

“In Scotland we’ve already introduced the multi-buy ban and have seen positive results, with a 2.6 per cent reduction in the amount of alcohol sold per adult.

“But we must go further to tackle Scotland’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol and save lives. We believe minimum alcohol pricing, agreed by the Scottish Parliament and backed by expert opinion, is the best way to address the availability of high-strength low-cost alcohol.

“Minimum pricing will begin saving lives within months of its introduction. The impact of a minimum 50p per unit policy, as we have proposed in Scotland, is estimated by alcohol policy experts to be over 60 times greater than the impact of banning below cost sales which was announced by the UK today.”

Notes to editors

The Scottish Government embarked upon minimum unit pricing before the UK Government. An Act of Parliament – the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012 - which was passed overwhelmingly by the Scottish Parliament in May 2012.

The latest Sheffield University School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) modelling for Scotland estimated that a minimum price of 50p per unit price would result in the following benefits:

  • 60 fewer deaths in year 1, over 300 fewer deaths per annum by year 10
  • 900 fewer acute illnesses in year 1
  • Around 3,500 fewer crimes per year
  • Total value of harm reduction in year 1 is estimated at £64 million, with cumulative value of harm reduction over 10 years is estimated at £942 million.

Conclusions of the recently published research coming from Canada is that minimum pricing is a promising strategy for reducing the public health burden associated with hazardous alcohol consumption. Most recent results show a 10% increase in minimum prices significantly reduced consumption by 8.43% for all beverages combined; and a 10% increase in the average minimum price for all alcoholic beverages was associated with a 32% reduction in wholly alcohol attributable deaths.