Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) Continuation and future pricing: Stage 2: Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment

Scottish Government developed a Children's Rights & Wellbeing Impact Assessment to assess the of the continuation and uprating of Minimum Unit Price (MUP) of children and young people living in Scotland.

3. Evidence from children and young people

Engagement for the PHS evaluation of MUP

In relation to the report on children and young people's own drinking, various methods were used by the researchers to engage with and represent the lived experiences of children and young people who consume alcohol. Participants were aged under 18 years as the study aimed to gather young people's experiences of alcohol before they were legally entitled to purchase it. The young people had all consumed alcohol before and after the introduction of MUP in May 2018 so they could comment on any change in their drinking and related behaviour.

The young people were recruited through eight youth organisations and schools across Scotland using a purposive sampling strategy to capture lived experience.

Fifty young people aged 13 to 17 years old who were drinking alcohol before and after the implementation of MUP in May 2018 were interviewed via individual, paired and small group interviews depending on their preferences on how they wanted to take part. The interviews took place between January and May 2019. The socio-demographic characteristics of the children and young people who participated in this research are set out in the tables below.

Table 1 Age and gender profile of participating children and young people
Age Female Male Total
13 0 1 1
14 6 5 11
15 5 2 7
16 5 12 17
17 7 7 14
Total 23 27 50
Socio-demographic characteristics Number
Urban area with higher socio-economic status 6
Urban area with lower socio-economic status 6
Rural area with higher socio-economic status 6
Rural area with lower socio-economic status 6
History of substance misuse 6
Care experienced 10
History of offending 5
Total 50

In addition, 21 staff and volunteers who work with young people were also interviewed via individual, paired and small group interviews. The sample included support workers, youth workers, school guidance staff and service managers who commented on their perception of young people's alcohol consumption and related behaviour, including the impact of MUP.

Engagement by Scottish Government

The MUP legislation required the Scottish Government (SG) to consult various categories of person while preparing their report on the operation and effect of minimum unit pricing. As part of this, we engaged with five young people (aged 18-24) through an online focus group. Topics discussed included their understanding of MUP, MUP's impact on them, their friends and households, and the impact of removing or increasing MUP. The following is a summary of the key findings

  • Participants were aware that MUP exists and has been part of their lives for as long as they remember.
  • Participants were aware of the cross-border price difference in alcohol. Many believed that people in England and on holiday abroad could engage in higher alcohol consumption because alcohol is cheaper and subject to promotions.
  • Participants believed that MUP has created price similarity across different types and brands of alcohol and that cider consumption has decreased as a result.
  • Regarding underage drinking, participants thought that MUP may prevent underage children from asking older young people to buy them alcohol due to the high price.
  • While most of the participants' families were not as affected by MUP, one participant said that MUP put a constraint on their household budget. There were some concerns that an increase in MUP could push people to prioritise alcohol over food.
  • Participants were concerned that younger people could substitute alcohol for drugs and buy less nutritious food if alcohol prices increase.
  • Most participants saw the benefit of MUP in helping Scots limit their alcohol intake and deal with the negative consequences of harmful and hazardous consumption. Their general view was to keep the current level of MUP. One participant had a polarised view of either removing MUP altogether or increasing MUP in line with inflation as it is currently ineffective, making alcohol cheaper than it was 5 years ago when the policy was first introduced.

Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC) – 2022 Survey Results in Scotland[14]

The most recent HBSC report presents data on adolescent health and wellbeing, including drinking alcohol. A nationally representative sample of 4,388 pupils participated in the 2022 Scottish HBSC survey. With regard to alcohol, it found that:

  • Just over one in five (22%) young people said they currently drank alcohol and this increased with age from 5% of 11-year-olds, 16% of 13-year-olds to 45% of 15-year-olds.
  • Overall, 12% of young people reported having been drunk two or more times in their life. Prevalence of drunkenness increased with age: just under one third (29%) of 15-year-olds reported being drunk at least twice compared with 6% of 13-year-olds and 1% of 11-year- olds.
  • Among 15-year-olds, prevalence of drunkenness increased from 40% in 1990 to 55% in 1998. Since 1998, levels have declined steadily and are now at their lowest in 32 years.

Analysis of the evidence


Email: MUP@gov.soct

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