The Scottish Government introduced a minimum unit pricing (MUP) of alcohol set at 50p per unit on 1 May 2018, with the aim of reducing alcohol consumption and tackling alcohol-related harms in Scotland. This research sought to investigate public attitudes towards MUP in 2023. Public Health Scotland (PHS) carried out previous work on public attitudes toward MUP both pre- and post-implementation of the policy. This formed part of the independent PHS evaluation of MUP and findings were included in the final evaluation report published on the 27th June 2023. Differences in methodology between the previous work and this new research means that findings are not comparable.
The Scottish Government commissioned Ipsos Mori to carry out public attitudes research through an omnibus survey, which asked a nationally representative sample of 1,029 adults across Scotland whether they were in favour of or against MUP. Respondents were also asked the main and secondary reason for why they were in favour or against MUP. Participants of the panel survey are random probability sampled and people without digital access are equipped with a tablet, email address, and basic broadband to enable their participation. The survey was in field between 13th-19th July 2023.
The survey used the same questions as the previous PHS work, but as mentioned several methodological differences mean that findings are not comparable. This work was carried out online through a panel survey whereas previous work was conducted face-to-face through the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey. Previous work generally had larger sample sizes, with the exception of the 2019 wave (1,497 in 2013, 1,288 in 2015, and 1,022 in 2019). As described above, this work had a sample size of 1,029. Moreover, there are some differences in sampling techniques. Previous work used clustered random probability sampling to recruit survey respondents, while Ipsos Mori invites people to join an online survey panel through unclustered random probability sampling, and survey respondents are then chosen from the existing panel. The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey also conducts fieldwork over a much longer period of time (June-October 2013, July 2015-January 2016, August 2019-March 2020 respectively) compared to this panel survey, which ran over one week (13th-19th July 2023). Therefore, there was much greater scope in this new work for people's attitudes toward MUP to be influenced by current events or media coverage, or for responses to be impacted by a seasonal bias compared to previous work. As the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey is carried out over several months, from summer to winter, the risk for these biases and their impact on findings is significantly smaller.
Overall, people were slightly more likely to be in favour of MUP (43%) than against it (38%). Almost a fifth of respondents (18%) were neutral and a small number did not know (1%).
People were more likely to be somewhat in favour of MUP (26%) than strongly in favour (17%). Conversely, people were slightly more likely to be strongly against MUP (20%) than somewhat against it (18%).
The most common main reason for being in favour of MUP was to help tackle problems caused by alcohol in general (34% of respondents in favour of MUP), followed by to help tackle health problems from drinking (20% of respondents in favour of MUP).
The most common main reason for opposing MUP was feeling it punishes everyone for what some drinkers do (29% of respondents who were against MUP), followed by feeling that if people want to drink they will whatever the price (22% of respondents against MUP).
Analysis by socio-demographic characteristics revealed some differences in attitude. Most population subgroups were more likely to be in favour of MUP, except for:
- People aged 55-64 and 75+
- People on the highest household incomes (£100,000+ per annum)
- People living in the most deprived quintile (Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) 1).
These groups were instead more likely to be against MUP.
Women were significantly more likely to be in favour of MUP compared to men (48% of women compared to 37% of men). Men were significantly more likely to be against MUP than women (44% of men compared to 33% of women).
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