Research which estimates 156 deaths were averted each year following the implementation of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) has been welcomed by the Public Health Minister Maree Todd.
A Public Health Scotland and University of Glasgow study indicates a 13.4% reduction in deaths, and a 4.1% reduction in hospital admissions wholly attributable to alcohol consumption in the first two and a half years after MUP was introduced in May 2018. The report also concludes the policy had reduced deaths and hospital admissions where alcohol consumption may have been a factor.
Researchers say they are confident there is a link between the introduction of MUP and the reduction in alcohol health harms. They also noted there had been significant reductions in deaths in areas of deprivation, suggesting MUP has helped reduce inequalities in alcohol-attributable deaths in Scotland.
Ms Todd said:
“I am very pleased with these findings which point to more than 150 lives a year being saved and 411 fewer hospital admissions, further underlining the value of our world-leading Minimum Unit Pricing policy which has helped reduce alcohol sales to their lowest on record.
“We’re determined to do all we can to reduce alcohol-related harm which is one of the most pressing public health challenges that we face in Scotland.
“Minimum Unit Pricing continues to achieve its aim – cutting overall sales, particularly cheap high-strength alcohol, which is often drunk by people drinking at harmful levels.
“It’s also encouraging to see that the research has highlighted that the policy is having an effect in Scotland’s most deprived areas – which experience higher death rates and levels of harms from problem alcohol.”
The study – published by PHS and the Lancet – focused on the first two-and-half years of the policy. It follows a previous report which estimated that alcohol sales had dropped by 3% after MUP. A report bringing together all the evaluation findings on MUP will be published in June this year.