Minimum unit pricing in Scotland is legal – AHA comment

21 October 2016: Responding to the ruling made today in the Scottish courts in relation to minimum unit pricing in Scotland, Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said:

We welcome this court ruling, and hope to see minimum unit pricing speedily implemented in Scotland. Now is the time to act, even if the global alcohol producers, prioritising commercial interests over Scotland’s health, try to delay further by another appeal.

Now is also the time for England and Wales to follow suit and introduce MUP. The UK government committed to introducing MUP in 2012, and the public support the measure. Government-commissioned research estimates that in the first year following the implementation of MUP in England, there would be nearly 140 fewer crimes per day.

MUP leaves pub prices untouched, and targets the cheap alcohol which is preferentially consumed by children and dependent drinkers. Recent AHA research has found that alcohol is being sold for as little as 16p per unit, with 3 litre bottles of white cider, which contain the same amount of alcohol as 22 shots of vodka, available for just £3.49.

MUP would also be of greatest benefit to those on low income, with 8 out of 10 lives saved coming from the lowest income groups, and greater harm reductions felt by these groups. The government has spoken of its commitment to even out life chances, and MUP would go a long way in furthering this agenda. 

Notes

Modelling by the University of Sheffield estimates that a 50p MUP in Scotland would have the following effects after one year:

  • 60 fewer deaths
  • 1,300 fewer hospital admissions
  • 3,500 fewer crimes

According to the modelling, the health gains will continue to increase over 20 years. At this time, in Scotland there would be an estimated:

  • 120 fewer deaths due to alcohol each year
  • 2,000 fewer hospital admissions due to alcohol each year

Work commissioned by the Government from the University of Sheffield revealed that 1 year after introducing an MUP in England there would be:

  • 50,700 fewer crimes
  • 376,600 fewer days absent from work
  • 192 fewer deaths