Scotland: MUP Cuts Alcohol Use Substantially
A new study reports that Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) on alcohol implemented in Scotland is substantially reducing alcohol use within the country.
Scotland was the first country in the world to introduce MUP at 50 pence per unit of alcohol. This was a hard won victory for public health over Big Alcohol interests. Now the results of a new study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) shows the policy is working even better than expected.
Researchers analyzed data from Kantar Worldpanel, a consumer database comprising of 30,000 British households which includes data on all take-home alcohol purchases. Thousands of households in Scotland were analysed over a four-year period, before and for the first eight months after the introduction of MUP on May 1, 2018. They were compared against thousands of households in England – where MUP is not in place – as a control.
The study found:
- Overall, MUP has corresponded with a reduction of 9.5g in the amount of alcohol purchased on average – per adult, per household, per week – in Scotland. That is the equivalent of slightly over one unit, or roughly half a pint of beer.
- By far, it was the highest consuming households that cut back on buying alcohol – accounting for a weekly drop of around 15g per adult.
- The reduction was greater in “lower income households and only occurred in the top fifth of households by income that purchased the greatest amount of alcohol”.
MUP exceeds expectations for public health gains
Before the policy was introduced, modelling predicted that it would result in 2,036 fewer alcohol-related deaths and 38,859 alcohol-related hospital admissions over the first 20 years compared to a Scotland without MUP.
However, that was predicated on an annual reduction in per capita alcohol consumption of around 3.5%. In contrast, the BMJ study found that MUP has coincided with a 7.6% reduction – 2.2 times what was estimated. This means alcohol related death and disease will probably decrease more than twice the amount as expected.
Surely it is time to follow Scotland’s lead and implement MUP across the rest of the UK. Action is especially pressing for those regions, such as north east England, with comparable levels of harm from alcohol,” wrote the authors of the study, as per, News Medical.