25 May 2016: Responding to the figures released today from NHS Health Scotland, showing that alcohol sales in Scotland are increasing, Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said:
“Over half of alcohol in supermarkets and off-licences is now being sold at less than 50p per unit, leading to increasing sales of alcohol in Scotland. Further, it is not just Scotland experiencing these increases – these figures show that falls in sales have stopped in England and look like they are starting to rise again.
This may represent a turning point for the downward trend in consumption we had been seeing, which is likely to be driven by recent alcohol duty cuts and improvements in the economy.
This increase in sales is worrying news, as we know that higher levels of alcohol consumption means higher levels of alcohol-related harm. As the rise in sales has been fuelled by off- licence sales, this also means that pubs, despite the stated intention of the Chancellor and sections of the alcohol industry, are not benefitting from duty cuts and increased sales.
The figures released today demonstrate the urgent need for minimum unit pricing to be implemented in Scotland, something which the Scottish government rightly wants to implement and something which would already have happened had it not been for the legal challenge from the Scottish Whiskey Association. They also demonstrate that the Westminster Government should be looking at addressing the issue of cheap alcohol elsewhere in the UK, first by taxing alcohol in a fairer way – a way which protects our most vulnerable communities and relieves the pressure on our emergency services.”
The full report, data and infographics from NHS Health Scotland is available here.