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Alcohol Purchases Down After Minimum Unit Pricing?

Signs That Alcohol Purchases Are Down After Minimum Unit Pricing In Scotland.


It was a ground-breaking change in the law designed to reduce the number of people abusing alcohol in Scotland. Minimum pricing on alcohol was introduced in May 2018. The change in the law saw alcohol for sale for a minimum of 50p a unit. This was to decrease the rate of people consuming alcohol and, according to a recent study, it seems to have been a success.


Research appearing in the British Medical Journal focussed on the amount of alcohol purchased in shops before the change in legislation, and after it came into effect, up to the end of last year.

Report from Newcastle University on Alcohol Misuse

The report, compiled by a research team based at Newcastle University, concluded the quantity of alcohol purchased by an individual each week declined by 1.2 units. This amounting to a measure of spirits or half a pint of beer.


However, the research did not take pubs, restaurants or bars into account, which make up one in four of all alcoholic drinks bought in Scotland.

 60,000 Households surveyed


The researchers looked at the shopping patterns of 55,000 households in England and 5,000 in Scotland from 2015 to 2018, when it came to buying alcohol. They found the members of the English control group drunk a little more, while alcohol sales in Scotland decreased. All in all, the study noted a decline of over 7% or 1.2 units a week for every adult over what was anticipated.


Researchers believe this adds up to a decrease of approximately 200% before the new legislation began. They noticed a sizeable decline in the sale high-strength white cider and spirits, including the home brand variety.  These are often the kinds of drinks which lead to abusers requiring detox treatments.


 Amount purchased still above recommended alcohol abuse limits


The study also found Scottish people were still purchasing more than 14 units of alcohol a week. Therefore, despite the initial hopeful results, there is still a need to check to see if the decline continues. It was also reported the number of people drinking in this country may have increased again near the end of 2018.


For some, this is only to be expected and should not put a dampener on the findings of the report. Also, many consider the effects of minimum unit pricing in Scotland to be encouraging.