The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on raising the minimum unit price of alcohol to 65p.
‘Views are being sought on whether to continue minimum unit pricing (MUP) legislation beyond the current term which ends next April, and the level at which it should be set,’ the government states.
MUP legislation is subject to a ‘sunset clause’, meaning that it will expire in April 2024 unless the Scottish Parliament votes for it to continue. The level has been set at 50p per unit since MUP was implemented in 2018, with campaigners arguing that it has failed to keep pace with inflation. There were 1,276 alcohol specific deaths in Scotland last year, the highest number since 2008 (www.drinkanddrugsnews.com/small-increase-in-scottish-alcohol-deaths/).
A new report from the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group states that ‘even under the most optimistic assumptions’ about how quickly alcohol consumption among the heaviest drinkers is likely to return to pre-pandemic levels – if at all – there is likely to be a ‘marked increase ‘in alcohol harms. High inflation has also ‘eroded the real-terms value’ of the 50p MUP level it adds.
‘The recent rise in alcohol-specific deaths highlights the need for more to be done to tackle alcohol-related harm,’ said drug and alcohol policy minister Elena Whitham. ‘We believe the proposals set out in this consultation strike a reasonable balance between public health benefits and any effects on the alcoholic drinks market and subsequent impact on consumers, but we want to hear from all sides and urge everyone to take the time to respond.’
The minimum unit price should be increased to 65p to ‘match inflation and ensure that this continues to be an effective measure in tackling our nation’s complex relationship with alcohol,’ said policy lead at With You, Graeme Callander. ‘But minimum unit pricing cannot be delivered in isolation. The Scottish Government also needs to commit to the provision of well-funded and readily available support and treatment services for people with alcohol dependence.’
Alcohol – minimum unit pricing – continuation and future pricing: consultation at www.gov.scot/publications/alcohol-minimum-unit-pricing-mup-continuation-future-pricing-consultation/
New modelling of alcohol pricing policies, alcohol consumption and harm in Scotland at https://sarg-sheffield.ac.uk/new-modelling-of-alcohol-harms-in-scotland/