Aberdeen research and policy engagement contributes to introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol in Scotland

  • Anne Ludbrook (Coordinator)

Impact: Economic and/or Commercial, Policy, Health and Wellbeing, Societal

Description of impact

At the start of the 2000s, alcohol specific death rates were three times higher in Scotland than in England and Wales. University of Aberdeen research, policy engagement and expert witness activity have contributed to the implementation in 2018 of minimum unit pricing (MUP) for alcohol in Scotland, with our involvement at all stages from initial conception to defence against legal challenges.

Early evidence of public health impact indicates a 7.6% reduction in off-licence alcohol purchases in Scotland relative to England, predominantly affecting the heaviest purchasing households. Alcohol specific deaths fell by 10.2% in Scotland in 2019 although it is too early to make a causal link to the implementation of MUP. Wales and Jersey have followed Scotland’s example, implementing MUP in March and April 2020 respectively. Other jurisdictions (Republic of Ireland, Guernsey, The Netherlands) are considering implementing MUP for alcohol.

Outcomes to Date / Future Developments

Research from the health economics team at the University of Aberdeen has directly contributed to tackling the health and social challenges in Scotland caused by excessive alcohol consumption. The research findings have informed Scottish regulation related to the minimum unit pricing (MUP) for alcohol and contributed to the Scottish Government’s defence against legal challenges by demonstrating the proportionality of the proposed legislation. The implementation of MUP has led to a 7.6% reduction in off-trade (i.e. off-license) alcohol purchasing concentrated in the heaviest purchasing households. Similar policy changes have been implemented in Wales and Jersey and are being considered in Ireland, Guernsey and The Netherlands.
Impact statusImpact Completed (Open)
Impact date2020
Category of impactEconomic and/or Commercial, Policy, Health and Wellbeing, Societal