Research conducted by the NHS found that the volume of alcohol sold per adult in Scotland has fallen by 3.6% during the first year of implementing minimum unit pricing (MUP).
The new report, which was carried out by NHS Health Scotland, evaluated the impact of MUP on sales-based consumption in Scotland over the 12 months following the new legislation.
In May 2018, Scotland became the first country in the world to introduce MUP for alcohol as it aimed to tackle public health problems caused by cheap, high-strength alcohol.
The new legislation set a minimum price of 50p per unit. Analysis found that the average price of off-trade alcohol rose by 5p per unit (ppu) from 55ppu to 60ppu.
Compared to the 12 months which preceded implementation of MUP, the volume of pure alcohol sold per adult in Scotland decreased from 7.4 to 7.1 litres, a fall of 3.6%.
Meanwhile, England and Wales – where MUP has not been introduced – recorded an increase from 6.3 to 6.5 litres.
Cider sales in Scotland recorded the most significant decrease of 18.6%, while sales of spirits fell by 3.8% and beer by 1.1%. Fortified wine was the only drink category in which sales rose.
Sales of cider, spirits and beer all increased in England and Wales over the same time period.
Lucie Giles, public health intelligence advisor at NHS Health Scotland, said: “This is the first time we have been able to analyse sales data covering the full year following the introduction of MUP, and it is encouraging that off-trade alcohol sales fell in Scotland following its implementation.
“Today’s findings show that the scale of change varies according to drink category. For example, per adult sales of cider saw the greatest decrease, and this was likely to be associated with cider having the greatest relative increase in average sales price, once MUP came into force.”
The analysis suggested it was unlikely the increase in alcohol sales in northern England was due to cross border sales activity as similar rises were observed in the rest of England and Wales.
Further evaluations looking at longer term, post-MUP data will be published in due course.
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