Alcohol sales remain at record low in Scotland

Posted on: 18th June 2020

Although there are many causes of liver disease, alcohol is the leading cause of deaths due to liver disease in the UK.

The mortality rate from alcohol-related liver disease has risen by 400% since the 1970s, and, sadly, each one of these deaths was preventable.

As part of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, the British Liver Trust has been campaigning to introduce minimum unit pricing (MUP) across the UK to help tackle alcohol harm in those most at risk. The heaviest drinkers tend to favour the cheapest drinks, and those are the drinks that MUP targets.

The picture in Scotland

This week, NHS Scotland’s annual Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland’s Alcohol Strategy (MESAS) report found that alcohol sales in Scotland were at the same level as the previous year, maintaining the lowest level since recording began in 1994.

The decline in alcohol sales coincides with the introduction of minimum unit pricing in Scotland which came into force on 1 May 2018 and requires all licensed premises in Scotland to set a floor price of 50p per unit of alcohol.

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said: “It is encouraging to see that alcohol sales in Scotland remain at their lowest levels in more than 25 years.

“The introduction of minimum unit pricing in Scotland two years ago seems to be beginning to make a real difference to public health and this report adds to the growing evidence base that minimum unit pricing is beginning to result in less harmful drinking habits in Scotland and therefore saving lives.

Action needed

Vanessa Hebditch, Director of Policy and Communications at the British Liver Trust, says: “This is promising news for public health in Scotland. Wales introduced MUP earlier this year, and now we urgently need England and Northern Ireland to follow suit.

“Over 24,000 people die in England every year from alcohol-related causes, with those in the north of the country disproportionately affected by the devastating impact of alcohol harm. The Government needs to take action now to help prevent more avoidable deaths in the future.”

You can read the full report here.