Alison Douglas: I welcome minimum unit pricing for alcohol | The Scotsman

The historic introduction of Minimum Unit ­Pricing (MUP) of ­alcohol is just weeks away and will mark a significant turning point in ­Scotland’s damaging relationship with drink.

When this life-saving ­policy comes into effect on May 1, the positive impact on the nation’s health will be felt in a matter of months. In the first year alone, minimum pricing could prevent 60 ­alcohol-related deaths, 1,300 hospital admissions and 3,500 crimes, and those health and ­other benefits will build over time.

It still shocks me that one in 15 of all deaths in Scotland can be directly attributable to alcohol. A report in February by NHS Health Scotland showed alcohol causes 3,700 deaths in Scotland in a year, while more than 41,000 people were admitted to hospital in 2015 as a result of drink.

We should use the very ­welcome implementation of MUP as a starting point for even more ambitious policies aimed at further tackling Scotland’s problematic relationship with alcohol.

The publication of the Scottish Government’s alcohol strategy due this spring provides us with an ideal opportunity to build on the world-leading development that is MUP and to stimulate a national conversation about how we change our relationship with alcohol, both individually and ­collectively.

Scotland clearly has a problem with alcohol. Consumption remains significantly higher than in the rest of the UK, with 17 per cent more alcohol sold per adult in Scotland than in England and Wales. Almost all of this was because of higher sales in supermarkets and off-licences where it is sold at the cheapest prices. The vast majority of Scotland’s alcohol is now brought from off-sales for consumption at home and alcohol is 60 per cent more affordable today than it was 30 years ago.

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Alison Douglas: I welcome minimum unit pricing for alcohol – The Scotsman.