Doctors have called for the minimim price of alcohol in Scotland to be increased to be at least 65p per unit, ahead of the third anniversary of the landmark alcohol prevention policy being introduced.
The Chair of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) said although there had been “encouraging signs” that MUP was saving lives, alcohol deaths and harm still remains too high.
Dr Alastair MacGilchrist was also joined by health campaigners ‘Alcohol Focus Scotland’ in the plea to increase minimum pricing in line with inflation.
Scotland became the first country to bring in the public health measure in on May 1, 2018, and the minimum price per unit of alcohol was set at 50p per unit of alcohol, but it has remained the same since.
Dr Alastair argued that the MUP level should be raised to 65p per unit without delay.
“MUP is working, it is saving lives but to continue to do so at a meaningful level, SHAAP propose an immediate increase in the minimum price to 65p per unit,” he said.
“Resetting the level at 65p would take account of inflation and allow a modest uplift to increase the health benefits”.
Evidence so far has shown positive indications that MUP appears to be working, with a reduction in consumption since its introduction in 2018. There have been encouraging decreases in hospital admissions from alcohol-related liver conditions and a reduction of 10% in alcohol related deaths in 2019.
The Scottish government had committed to reviewing the price after two years but this was delayed due to the pandemic.
However, Alcohol Focus Scotland say any review should go beyond offsetting the effects of inflation and based on the retail price index a minimum unit price of 50 pence in 2012, when the policy was approved, is now equivalent to 61p in 2021.
Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: “Minimum unit pricing is working; it has reduced alcohol consumption and there are early signs it is preventing illness and saving lives.
“But the policy has the potential to deliver even greater benefits. Now is the time to increase the minimum price to not only account for inflation since the Parliament approved MUP nine years ago, but also set it at a level that will save more lives and prevent a new generation from developing a problematic relationship with alcohol.
“We need the next Scottish Government to increase the minimum unit price to at least 65p per unit and to future-proof its positive effects by ensure that the price is increased in line with inflation.”