There is strong and consistent evidence linking the price of alcohol to the demand for alcohol and that increasing the price reduces consumption and alcohol related harm. The evidence supports the assertion that a minimum price per unit of alcohol will lead to reductions in health, crime and employment harms.
The policy aim is to reduce consumption generally but, in particular, to target a reduction in consumption of cheaper alcohol relative to its strength. Evidence shows that this type of product is more favoured by hazardous and, particularly, harmful drinkers. Minimum pricing achieves this because it is both a whole population approach and a targeted approach – it applies to the whole population, but hazardous and harmful drinkers are likely to be affected more than moderate drinkers, in terms of the amount they drink, how much they spend and how much they benefit from reductions in harm. In addition, hazardous and harmful drinkers in poverty are more likely to respond to minimum pricing and, given they are more likely to suffer greater harms, they will benefit from the greatest reduction in health harms.
The Scottish Government considers that the increased costs to individuals are outweighed by the benefits in the reduction of societal harms. It is estimated there will be administrative costs for the industry in setting up and maintaining a separate pricing structure to the rest of the UK (unless they voluntarily adopt the Scottish pricing arrangements across the UK). However, the alcohol industry as a whole is estimated to benefit from increased revenues. Some parts of the industry may incur costs; however, we consider this is offset by the benefits they are also likely to experience.