Scottish Government comes under pressure to increase MUP

Scottish Parliament

Alcohol Focus Scotland (AFS) and Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) are calling for an increase in minimum unit pricing.

In a letter to Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Health Humza Yousaf and Public Health Minister Maree Todd, the campaigners recommend the Scottish Government increases the current price of 50p per unit to 65p.

The letter, which is signed by leading health and children’s charities and royal colleges, highlights that while the initial findings from the Public Health Scotland evaluation have been positive, the impact of a 50p MUP is likely to have been significantly eroded by inflation.

The campaigners believe that Scottish Government could save and improve more lives by increasing the minimum price. The original modelling of MUP calculated that setting a higher price will deliver greater benefits – a price of 60p per unit was predicted to save twice as many lives and hospital admissions as 50p per unit, while 70p was expected to deliver three times the effect.

Dr Alastair MacGilchrist, chair of SHAAP, said: “The Scottish Government committed to review the price two years after the introduction of the policy. While this has understandably been delayed due to the pandemic, we cannot afford to wait any longer.

“Experts in public health and beyond believe increasing the minimum unit price is the right thing to do. By taking action, the Scottish Government can reduce the harm and pain caused by alcohol problems across Scotland, as well as save many more lives.”

MUP came into force in 2018 and in the two years following, there was a reduction in alcohol consumption and decreases in hospital admissions from alcohol-related liver conditions. Scotland also saw a 10% decrease in the number of alcohol-specific deaths in 2019. Unfortunately, probably due to changing drinking patterns during the pandemic, alcohol-related deaths rose by a 17% in 2020.

Blantyre retailer and national deputy vice-president of the NFRN, Shahid Razzaq, said: “These figures are quite shocking. While MUP proved to be very successful initially, it is clear that it needs to be reviewed and acted on by government to address this worrying trend and we fully support the proposed increase.”