The Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012 allows the Scottish Parliament to set a price below which alcohol cannot be sold. This publication reports on the operation and effect of the minimum pricing provisions during the first five years of the provisions being in force.
The Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012 ("the 2012 Act") allows the Scottish Parliament to set a price below which alcohol cannot be sold in Scotland. The Alcohol (Minimum Price per Unit) (Scotland) Order 2018 set the minimum unit price of alcohol at 50p. The legislation came fully into force on 1 May 2018, after implementation was delayed pending the outcome of an unsuccessful legal challenge. Section 2 of the 2012 Act contains a sunset clause, stating that the minimum unit pricing of alcohol (MUP) provisions will expire after they have been in place for 6 years (30 April 2024), unless Scottish Ministers bring forward new legislation to continue their effect. Section 3 of the 2012 Act requires Scottish Ministers to lay a report on the operation and effect of MUP as soon as practicable after the first five years of MUP implementation.
The policy aims to reduce health harms caused by alcohol consumption by setting a floor price below which alcohol cannot be sold. In particular, it targets a reduction in consumption of alcohol that is considered cheap, relative to its strength. It aims to reduce both the consumption of alcohol at population level and, in particular, those who drink at hazardous and harmful levels. In doing so, it aims to reduce alcohol related health harms among hazardous and harmful drinkers, and contribute to reducing harm at a whole population level.
People who drink at hazardous and harmful levels in lower socio-economic groups suffer greater harms than those who drink at these levels in higher socio-economic groups due to the impact of multiple drivers of health inequality. MUP is also intended to address alcohol related health inequalities by reducing consumption and therefore harm among hazardous and harmful drinkers as a whole, having a positive effect on health inequalities given the greater harms people in lower socio-economic groups experience in relation to alcohol.