Scotland considers MUP increase to 65p
The Scottish government has launched a consultation to increase minimum unit pricing (MUP) on alcohol to 65p, a move that would push up the price of a bottle of Scotch by 30%.
Scottish parliament introduced an MUP for alcohol of at least 50p per unit on 1 May 2018 in a bid to tackle alcohol-related harm. The current MUP provisions are due to expire on 30 April 2024.
Now the government is proposing to increase MUP by 15p on alcohol as part of a new consultation on the future of public health policy.
According to the consultation, a 700ml bottle of 40% ABV Scotch would have to be sold for at least £18.20 (US$22.26) at the new MUP rate, up from £14 under the current provision.
A 700ml bottle of gin or vodka (37.5% ABV) would increase to £17.07 (US$20.88).
Sales of spirits fell by 4.9% per adult in Scotland following the introduction of MUP, data from Public Health Scotland (PHS) revealed in November 2022.
A spokesperson for trade body the Scotch Whisky Association said: “Alcohol misuse is complex but is a challenge that must be addressed.
“The Scotch whisky industry is committed to working in partnership with the Scottish government to achieve that shared goal, including through the SWA’s ‘Made to be Measured’ campaign.
“An increase of the minimum unit price of alcohol in Scotland from 50p to 65p would push up the minimum price of Scotch whisky from £14 to £18.20 – a significant increase of 30% that would impact consumers across Scotland, the vast majority of whom drink responsibly.
“We will analyse the consultation in detail and respond in due course.”
There were 1,276 alcohol-specific deaths registered in Scotland last year, an increase of 2% on 2021, the consultation highlighted.
An evaluation by PHS said it found “strong evidence” that MUP was linked to an estimated 13.4% reduction in deaths that were directly caused by alcohol consumption, and an estimated 4.1% non-significant reduction in hospital admissions related to alcohol use, compared to England.
Drugs and alcohol policy minister Elena Whitham said: “The recent rise in alcohol-specific deaths highlights the need for more to be done to tackle alcohol-related harm.”
She claimed that MUP had “saved hundreds of lives, likely averted hundreds of alcohol-attributable hospital admissions each year – and also contributed to reducing health inequalities”.
Whitham continued: “We believe the proposals set out in this consultation strike a reasonable balance between public health benefits and any effects on the alcoholic drinks market and subsequent impact on consumers, but we want to hear from all sides and urge everyone to take the time to respond.”
The Scottish government is inviting responses to the consultation by 22 November 2023.