Plans to continue setting a minimum price per unit of alcohol and to increase it by 15p will go before the Scottish Parliament for approval.
As part of a ‘sunset clause’ when Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) legislation was introduced in 2018, it will end on 30 April this year unless Parliament votes to keep it.
A price increase is required to counteract the effects of inflation and 65p has been selected as the Scottish Government seeks to increase the positive effects of the policy.
If Parliament agrees, it will take effect on 30 September 2024.
Deputy First Minister Shona Robison said:
“Research commended by internationally-renowned public health experts estimated that our world-leading Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) policy has saved hundreds of lives, likely averted hundreds of alcohol-attributable hospital admissions and contributed to reducing health inequalities.
“Despite this progress, deaths caused specifically by alcohol rose last year – and my sympathy goes out to all those who have lost a loved one.
“We believe the proposals, which are supported by Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, strike a reasonable balance between public health benefits and any effects on the alcoholic drinks market and impact on consumers. Evidence suggests there has not been a significant impact on business and industry as a whole.
“Alongside MUP, we will continue to invest in treatment and a wide range of other measures, including funding for Alcohol and Drug Partnerships which rose to £112 million in 2023-24.”
The orders will be laid before Parliament on 19 February.
Public attitudes research published in September 2023 found that overall more people were likely to be in favour of MUP (43%) than against it (38%) - in line with previous Scottish Social Attitudes Survey findings on MUP at intervals between 2013-2019.
Research conducted by Public Health Scotland and the University of Glasgow estimated that MUP had reduced alcohol-attributable deaths by 13.4% - 156 a year - and was likely to have reduced hospital admissions wholly attributable to alcohol by 4.1% up to the end of 2020 compared to what would have happened if MUP had not been in place.
As part of a review of the level of minimum unit price, the Scottish Government commissioned the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group, who are experts in this field, to undertake new modelling. Putting their analysis in the context of current prices, this estimated that continuing and raising MUP to 65p could avert an additional 60 alcohol specific deaths and 774 fewer hospital admissions in the first year, compared to the price remaining constant in real terms - not to mention the significant public health benefits expected where alcohol is a contributor to causes of death and ill health.