Alcohol sales fall to 25 year low

Signs of impact of minimum unit pricing on alcohol sales.

The volume of alcohol sold per adult in Scotland in 2018 has fallen to its lowest level since 1994.

The first expert analysis of data, just over a year since Scotland became the first country in the world to introduce minimum unit pricing, shows a 3% fall in alcohol sales per adult in Scotland from the previous year.

The volume of alcohol sold per adult in Scotland, compared to England and Wales, represented the smallest gap since 2002.

Results of the NHS Health Scotland Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland’s Alcohol Strategy (MESAS) programme found that the volume of alcohol sold per adult in Scotland was 9% higher than in England and Wales, where 9.1 litres was sold per adult.

On 1 May 2018 Scotland brought into force legislation setting a minimum 50 pence per unit price to tackle the harm caused by cheap, high strength alcohol.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:

“This is a promising start following our world-leading action to introduce minimum unit pricing, and with this 3% fall we are moving in the right direction.

“There are, on average, 22 alcohol-specific deaths every week in Scotland, and 683 hospital admissions, and behind every one of these statistics is a person, a family, and a community badly affected by alcohol harm.

“Given the clear and proven link between consumption and harm, minimum unit pricing is the most effective and efficient way to tackle the cheap, high strength alcohol that causes so much harm to so many families.”


The volume of alcohol sold per adult in Scotland is measured in terms of ethanol content

The volume of pure alcohol sold per adult in Scotland in 2018 fell to its lowest level since 1994 – 9.9 litres of pure alcohol per adult in 2018. This is equivalent to 19.0 units of alcohol per adult per week.

This research provides a more balanced picture than previously available as it examines the amount of pure alcohol sold across all products per adult, and a comparison with data from England and Wales where minimum pricing is not in place.

NHS Health Scotland leads the extensive independent monitoring and evaluation programme for minimum unit pricing (MESAS).The MESAS report is published by NHS Health Scotland.

Modelling shows MUP is estimated to save 392 lives in the first five years of implementation.

Minimum Unit Pricing was implemented in May 2018.


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