It’s been a long road but doctors and health experts are finally welcoming a minimum unit price for alcohol as the pioneering law comes into force in Scotland. The new 50p floor price aims to tackle Scotland’s unhealthy relationship with drink by raising the cost of cheap, high-strength products.
The Scottish Government warned retailers they will have no grace period to alter prices and shops will be targeted for spot checks.
Minimum pricing was delayed for a decade by opposition MSPs and a legal challenge led by the Scotch Whisky Association. Holyrood opponents eventually changed their minds and the Supreme Court upheld the legislation last November.
Research by Sheffield University suggested the 50p price floor will save 60 lives in its first year, rising to 300 lives a year after a decade.
If your drink of choice is already being sold for more than the minimum price, then it will likely remain unchanged. But if it is currently being sold for less than the minimum price, you can expect the cost to rise to at least the minimum level.
For example, if a 9.8 unit bottle of wine is currently being sold for £3.50 in your local supermarket, it will set you back at least £4.90.
Dr Peter Bennie, chairman of the British Medical Association in Scotland, said:
“It has been a long road but I am delighted that the persistence of alcohol campaigners, with strong BMA support, has paid off and minimum pricing has finally taken effect.
Minimum unit pricing is a policy that will help to save lives and reduce alcohol harms in Scotland. It will help to reduce the burden of alcohol on our health service, on society, and most importantly on individuals and their families.
This is an important milestone for Scotland. Other parts of the world will now be watching the implementation with great interest.”
Bennie said the alcohol industry discovered it cannot expect to block policies designed to protect health.
“Alcohol causes 1100 cases of cancer every year in Scotland. The less alcohol you drink, the lower your risk of cancer. A minimum unit price is one action among many that will help reduce how much alcohol is consumed in Scotland.”
Professor Linda Bauld, Deputy Director of UKCTAS
The law only covers Scotland, leading to loopholes for online purchases. Guidance last month stated that supermarket meal deals where wine is included are unlikely to be affected. Retailers are also advised that “click-and-collect” purchases won’t be covered by the law if cheap drinks are first sent from outside Scotland. Customers can buy over the internet or by phone from a business in England. A delivery firm down south would be allowed to send drink to customers in Scotland.
“I am proud the eyes of the world will once again be on Scotland with the introduction of this legislation.”
“Scotland has the highest rate of alcohol-related deaths in the UK. I hope we will see that change.”
Health Secretary Shona Robison
12 years apart but arguably the most important measures to improve population health introduced in Scotland for decades. MUP will be robustly evaluated, as was smokefree legislation in Scotland. As with smokefree, the results should provide evidence of international importance. pic.twitter.com/ZAVnB3cFBz
— Linda Bauld (@LindaBauld) May 1, 2018
— Niamh Fitzgerald (@NiamhCreate) May 1, 2018
Fact! Minimum unit pricing only impacts the cheapest, strongest products sold in supermarkets and shops. Drinks in pubs and restaurants are already priced over 50p a unit so will be untouched. #MUPsaveslives
— Balance North East (@BalanceNE) May 1, 2018
Doctors and health experts welcome minimum pricing for alcohol as law comes into force – Daily Record
Three quarters of all alcohol consumed in Wales is drunk by less than a quarter of the adult population who are hazardous or harmful drinkers and spend up to £2,882 per year on booze, research has revealed.
A report looking into the potential impact of minimum unit pricing and taxation policies in Wales was published Thursday 22nd February by the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group at the University of Sheffield.
The publication, which found that the 3% of the population who are harmful drinkers, account for 27% of all alcohol consumed, comes after the Welsh Government announced a new Bill that, if agreed by the National Assembly, will introduce a minimum price for the sale of alcohol.
The Bill, which is designed to reduce hazardous and harmful drinking would make it an offence for alcohol to be supplied below that price.
Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething said: “People who drink alcohol at hazardous and harmful levels drink 75% of the alcohol consumed in Wales.
“The introduction of a minimum unit price would be effective in reducing alcohol consumption among these groups, as well as reducing the number of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalisations.”
The availability of cheap, strong alcohol is estimated to lead to 50,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions a year, costing the Welsh NHS £120 million annually and, in 2015, there were 463 alcohol-related deaths in Wales.
The report reveals the population of Wales buys 50% of its alcohol for less than 55p per unit, 37% for less than 50p per unit and 27% for less than 45p per unit, with heavier drinkers being more likely to buy alcohol sold below these thresholds.
Mr Gething said: “The report shows the greatest impact of a minimum unit price would be on the most deprived harmful drinkers, while moderate drinkers would experience only small impacts on their alcohol consumption and spending.
“This is because moderate drinkers tend to buy alcohol which would be subject to little or no increase in price under the policy.
“If passed, this law will potentially save lives.”
The research also shows harmful drinkers spend an average £2,882 a year on alcohol, or around £7.80 per day, compared to £1,209 for hazardous drinkers and £276 for moderate drinkers.
The Sheffield Alcohol Research Group, commissioned by the Welsh Government in June 2017 to update a 2014 appraisal of the likely impact of a range of minimum unit pricing policies, concluded a minimum unit price set at between 35p and 70p would be effective in reducing alcohol consumption among hazardous and, particularly, harmful drinkers.
- Moderate drinkers drink an average of 211 units of alcohol per year compared to 1,236 for hazardous drinkers and 3,924 for harmful drinkers.
- Harmful drinkers spend an average £2,882 a year on alcohol compared to £1,209 for hazardous drinkers and £276 for moderate drinkers.
- Alcohol-attributable deaths and hospital admissions are concentrated in hazardous and particularly harmful drinkers who are more deprived.
External news coverage:
75% of alcohol in Wales is drunk by just over a fifth of the population according to new report – ITV News
Building on our previous CPD courses on tobacco control and alcohol policy, the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies is delighted to be offering our Nicotine & Tobacco CPD course at the University of Stirling in 2018!
Please note: If you book on/before 28th February 2018, the cost is: £499, or £649 for students seeking accreditation.
The course, successfully introduced in 2015, is aimed at professionals working in a range of organisations who are interested in public health and policy in the UK or internationally. In addition to the topics covered at previous tobacco CPDs, this year we will be examining the current, up to date evidence on tobacco harm reduction, electronic cigarettes and other nicotine-containing devices.
On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:
• Describe and discuss patterns of tobacco consumption, prevalence and addiction and the rise of e-cigarette use.
• Assess key milestones in tobacco and nicotine policy and the contribution of policy in developing and implementing effective interventions.
• Critically discuss the role of commercial interests, including the tobacco industry, in promoting tobacco use and recent controversies regarding the e-cigarette industry.
• Describe and discuss the range of effective interventions to reduce tobacco use and the place of tobacco harm reduction, including e-cigarettes, in addressing tobacco use.
• Assess the potential impact of current and emerging tobacco control priorities on different population groups, including tobacco harm reduction approaches.
• Discuss principles of media advocacy as applied to current issues in tobacco control.
*NEW FOR 2018*
ADDITIONAL BREAKOUT SESSIONS RELEVANT TO INTERNATIONAL TOBACCO CONTROL!
The finding that campaigns can be recalled suggests appropriate media channels, targeting strategies, durations and intensities have been utilized to reach target audiences. These campaign characteristics were not always reported by studies so it is not possible to draw a link between types of campaign strategies and levels of recall or exposure. Recall of tobacco mass media campaigns has been shown to be positively associated with smoking cessation (Jepson et al., 2007) so the outcome may be an important first step towards subsequent behaviour change in populations.
Most campaigns that aimed to improve knowledge were shown to be effective. This was particularly evident in areas where knowledge was initially low, for example, knowledge of unit consumption guidelines and of the link between alcohol and cancer. Mass media can yield sustained knowledge, which may lay the groundwork for reductions in consumption that are achieved using other public health measures.
There was evidence of increases in information seeking and treatment seeking. However, alcohol campaigns have not presented the simple call to action of tobacco messages (‘quit’) or provided offers of tangible help such as ‘quitlines’. Furthermore, as alcohol support services have historically been aimed at very heavy drinkers there may be a perception that current services do not cater for those who drink less. Mass media might therefore have limited utility in promoting service uptake.
Most studies found no impact on alcohol consumption, consistent with the conclusion of a previous review that there should be modest expectations of behaviour change from such campaigns (Snyder et al., 2004). Longer term evaluations conducted following sustained and repeated exposure to campaigns might be expected to be better able to detect effects on behaviour. However, the relationship between tobacco mass media campaign duration and effectiveness has been difficult to gauge due to confounding influences and trends over time (Durkin et al., 2012). The context in which alcohol health promotion campaigns operate is particularly challenging because of the ubiquity and power of alcohol marketing (de Bruijn et al., 2016) and pro-alcohol cultural norms (Gordon et al., 2012). This is another key difference to tobacco, where health campaigns in recent years have run in a context where most tobacco marketing has been banned or strictly regulated and social norms have become increasingly anti-smoking. The current review found evidence of impact on short term intermediate outcomes, suggesting mass media can play a supportive role for other actions which are more likely to have an impact on behaviour. These might include price-based measures (Babor et al., 2010), advertising restrictions (Siegfried et al., 2014), limiting availability and access to alcohol (Anderson et al., 2009) with the targeting of high risk groups (Foxcroft et al., 2015).
The 5th annual E-Cigarette Summit was held at the Royal Society in London on Friday 17th November 2017. Linda Bauld, Robert West and several other members of the UKCTAS network presented their research at the event to a large audience of other scientists, policy makers, medical and public health professionals and e-cigarette stakeholders. The presentations included the latest evidence on the safety of e-cigarettes for users and bystanders, usage in young people and non-smokers, advertising and marketing, use in public places and the conflicts arising from the tobacco industry’s dual corporate ownership of tobacco harm reduction products and cigarettes.
To view the slides from each presentation and the full list of videos click here.
Robert West (University College London) & Linda Bauld (University of Stirling):
Lion Shahab (University College London) & Jamie Hartmann-Boyce (University of Oxford):
Deborah Arnott (ASH) & Martin Dockrell (Public Health England):
“Tobacco Control Interventions”
29th Jan – 2nd Feb 2018
University of Nottingham
Closing date for applications: 16th January 2018
This year we will be discussing important factors in tobacco control including; youth smoking, the role of the tobacco industry, use of mass media for smoking prevention and cessation, smokefree legislation, harm reduction and the neurobiology of nicotine addiction.
“Alcohol, Problems, Policy & Practice”
5th – 9th February 2018
Kings College London
Early bird deadline: 21st December 2017
The course is a mixture of blended learning, with face-to-face lectures being held in February 2018. It is open to all UKCTAS researchers as well as students of the MSc in Addiction Studies.
“Nicotine and Tobacco CPD”
21st – 24th May 2018
University of Stirling
Early bird deadline: 28th February 2018
In addition to the topics covered on our previous tobacco control CPD, we will also be examining in detail the current evidence on tobacco harm reduction, electronic cigarettes and other nicotine-containing devices.
More information about these courses can be found on our website @ UKCTAS.net