Minimal unit pricing coverage for alcohol saved lives in Scotland


It took the Scottish Authorities a big period of time to implement its minimal unit pricing coverage for alcohol. Minimal Unit Pricing, because the identify suggests, applies a set value for every unit measured in an alcohol-based drink corresponding to wine or beer. The levy set by the Scottish Authorities again in Might 2018 was 50 pence per unit of alcohol.

The delay in implementing this coverage was as a result of means the alcohol business fought its introduction, taking authorized motion in an effort to thwart the Scottish Authorities’s plan. Though unsuccessful, this delayed the introduction of the coverage by a number of years.

The alcohol business is aware of that its most loyal prospects are those who eat the best amount of alcohol. Any coverage intervention that goals to cut back gross sales to this group is seen as a menace to their enterprise.

The Scottish Authorities launched this coverage in an try to cut back the hurt to well being attributable to alcohol. Scotland has the very best charge of deaths as a consequence of alcohol within the UK, with 22.4 deaths per 100,000 individuals (ONS, 2021).

As you’d count on there was lots of curiosity on this coverage intervention and notably to see whether or not it has had the supposed affect by lowering total consumption of alcohol in Scotland’s inhabitants. Regardless of this scrutiny, no research had investigated whether or not the coverage had any affect on mortality. This impressed the authors of a brand new paper (Wyper et al., 2023) to discover the information and see if the coverage had any vital affect on alcohol-related deaths in Scotland.

Scotland has the highest rate of alcohol-related deaths in the UK compared to other regions.

Scotland has the very best charge of alcohol-related deaths within the UK in comparison with different areas.


The authors used routinely collected information on alcohol and deaths in England and Scotland, utilizing England as a management group. They used a managed interrupted time sequence that captured month-to-month figures on deaths as a consequence of alcohol. The time sequence began previous to the introduction of the coverage, gathering information from January 2012 via to April 2018, the purpose of the coverage introduction. They then gathered 32 months of knowledge following the introduction of the coverage, from Might 2018 to December 2022.

The sort of methodology offers a helpful visible in addition to statistical means of checking whether or not an occasion such because the introduction of minimal unit pricing had any affect on a variable on this case mortality.


  • Within the 32 months following the introduction of minimal unit pricing for alcohol in Scotland, there was a 13.4% lower in deaths as a consequence of alcohol. This equates to 156 lives saved by the coverage intervention.
  • Additionally they discovered a 4.1% discount in hospitalisations straight as a consequence of alcohol consumption over the identical time interval.
  • These deaths should not unfold equally as decrease socio-economic areas have charges which might be 5 instances larger in comparison with these from larger socio-economic areas.
The introduction of minimum unit pricing for alcohol in Scotland led to a 13.4% decrease in alcohol-specific deaths and a 4.1% reduction in hospitalisations due to alcohol.

The introduction of minimal unit pricing for alcohol in Scotland led to a 13.4% lower in alcohol-specific deaths and a 4.1% discount in hospitalisations.


The authors present a compelling evaluation of the affect of the minimal unit pricing coverage launched by the Scottish Authorities. Hardly ever do coverage interventions obtain the eye that this one did, and plenty of should not evaluated to see whether or not they achieved their objectives or not.

Regardless of the significance of those insurance policies, it’s not solely shameful however a waste of public cash that they’re typically not adopted up. With out evaluation and analysis, we are sometimes left with no intelligence as to what works and what doesn’t in coverage interventions. That is notably troubling in relation to particular person and inhabitants well being and particularly mortality.

It’s to their credit score that the Scottish Authorities launched minimal unit pricing for alcohol as they confronted formidable opposition from the alcohol business. Maybe that resistance alerts the truth that they knew how efficient the coverage could be. If that’s the case, it’s not only a authorized loss for the business however an ethical one too. To oppose a coverage that may save lives within the pursuit of income is chilly, callous, and calculated.

This study suggests that at least 156 lives have been saved following the introduction of the new alcohol policy by the Scottish Government.

This research means that not less than 156 lives have been saved following the introduction of the brand new alcohol coverage by the Scottish Authorities.

Strengths and limitations

The principle power of this research is using time sequence evaluation as this matches nicely with the analysis query of whether or not minimal unit pricing had an affect on mortality. The authors included ample information factors previous to and following the introduction of the coverage in Might 2018. In consequence, this could minimise any random or coincidental findings.

That stated, the authors flag up the problem of the COVID-19 pandemic which occurred through the research interval. This issues as entry to alcoholic drinks had been in place as pubs and different shops had been closed during times of the pandemic. In an try and mitigate this impact, the authors carried out a sensitivity evaluation, however are clear that they will’t make sure how a lot the pandemic impacted the outcomes.

The covid-19 lockdowns may have impacted the findings to some degree, as people could not access alcohol in public places.

The COVID-19 lockdowns could have impacted the findings to a point, as individuals couldn’t entry alcohol in public locations like pubs.

Implications for follow

Though there are lots of issues particular person practitioners can do to cut back the potential hurt that alcohol could cause there are some issues that lie exterior their management – with the value of alcohol being one such factor. This requires authorities intervention and on this case, dedication to see the thought being carried out.

One apparent piece of intelligence for follow is the clear hyperlink between social deprivation and dangerous alcohol consumption. As with different elements of well being, it’s those who have the least that pay the best value together with mortality. Figuring out that alcohol consumption is elevated on this group might assist goal sources domestically as practitioners and groups can have the data of the place these people are and goal to make entry to remedy as simple as attainable. Nevertheless, given the persevering with real-term lower in remedy budgets, that would show to be an ambition somewhat than the fact.

Practitioners can be aware of social groups at higher risk of heavy alcohol consumption and tailor the services’ support to prevent negative outcomes.

If funding is offered, practitioners can concentrate on social teams at larger danger of heavy alcohol consumption and tailor their service assist to stop unfavorable outcomes.

Assertion of pursuits

The writer has no battle of curiosity.


Major paper

Wyper, G. M. A., Mackay, D. F., Fraser, C., Lewsey, J., Robinson, M., Beeston, C., & Giles, L. (2023). Evaluating the affect of alcohol minimal unit pricing on deaths and hospitalisations in Scotland: A managed interrupted time sequence research. The Lancet, 401(10385), 1361–1370.

Different references

Workplace for Nationwide Statistics (2021). Alcohol-specific deaths within the UK: registered in 2021.

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