Minimum alcohol pricing in Scotland leads to a reduction in alcohol purchases

A recent study has found that the introduction of minimum pricing for alcohol in Scotland has led to a decline in sales.

The study, published in the BMJ, found that the introduction of minimum pricing has led to a reduction of 1.2 units of alcohol purchased per person per week.

Increasing tax on alcohol has been shown to be effective in reducing alcohol consumption e.g. (see Alcohol: no ordinary commodity).[1] Over a decade ago in our Public health: ethical issues report, we recommended that the UK Government should increase taxes on alcoholic beverages.

Our public health report took the position that the state has a duty to provide conditions that allow people to lead healthy lives. We presented an ‘intervention ladder’ as a useful way of thinking about the acceptability and justification of different health policies. There is clear evidence of the harms of excessive alcohol drinking, and we welcomed the Scottish Government’s decision to introduce a minimum price based on the strength of alcoholic drinks. This new study should prompt Governments in England and Wales to consider adopting the same policy in England.

[1] For a summary, see: Society for the Study of Addiction Alcohol and Public Policy Group (2010) Alcohol: No Ordinary Commodity – a summary of the second edition Addiction 105(5): 769-77.

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