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Alcohol sales in Scotland drop to lowest-ever level following introduction of new pricing laws

Minimum unit pricing laws were introduced in May 2018.

Image: Shutterstock/Billion Photos

SALES OF ALCOHOL in Scotland have fallen to their lowest level since records began, following the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) laws in May 2018.

A new analysis from NHS Scotland found that 9.9 litres of pure alcohol were sold per adult in Scotland last year, equivalent to 19 units per adult per week.

The figure is part of a gradual decline in alcohol sales in the country in recent years, following a peak in of sales in 2007.

After increasing over the 1990s and early 2000s, the volume of pure alcohol sold per adult in Scotland stabilised at around 11.6 litres per adult between 2005 and 2009.

Sales began to decline before 2013, when the volume of pure alcohol sold per adult levelled off, but since 2015, sales have declined further, which the authors of the report said was “mostly due to the fall in 2018″.

The report also found that Scottish adults still bought more alcohol last year than those in England and Wales (on average), but noted that the gap between the countries is getting smaller.

And figures also show that there was a large drop in the volume of alcohol being sold at low prices.

The report follows the introduction of MUP laws in Scotland on 1 May last year – the first of their kind in the world – which set a minimum price of 50p for each unit of alcohol in a drink.

While the report’s authors believe that it is still too early to say whether the laws are having an impact, BBC reports them as saying that “early indicators were encouraging”.

‘Significant impact’

Alcohol campaigners in Ireland praised Scotland’s pro-active measures in tackling harmful drinking, and called for the Irish government to address the harms related to alcohol here.

Sheila Gilheany, CEO of Alcohol Action Ireland, said that similar measures contained in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill had yet to be introduced.

“Ireland… has even higher levels of alcohol consumption, [and] needs to address the multiple harms from alcohol in a systematic way,” she said.

“The Public Health (Alcohol) Act… was enacted almost nine months ago and has the potential to make a significant impact on the harms from alcohol in Ireland.

“However, many sections of the Act including MUP, have yet to be commenced by Minister Simon Harris.”

The much-debated legislation passed through the both Houses of the Oireachtas last year, when the Minister for Health said it would change “the culture of drinking in Ireland”.

The legislation was first published in 2015, and provided for changes such as minimum pricing on alcoholrestrictions on advertising and stark warning labels on alcohol products.

However, provisions such as MUP have yet to be introduced here..

“We know that young people are particularly price sensitive so MUP is an essential part of the suite of measures in the Act,” Gilheany added.

“This further delay in implementation of the Act, after years of debate, is deeply disappointing as Ireland continues to lose three people a day to alcohol related illness and incident.”

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