ALCOHOL consumption dropped to a 26-year low last year according to a recent report from Public Health Scotland.
The yearly Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland’s Alcohol Strategy (MESA) report showed that alcohol sales fell by 5 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019, this is the lowest level recorded since 1994.
During last year, Covid-19 restrictions impacted alcohol sales from premises such as restaurants, pubs, and clubs.
Meaning that nine in every ten units of alcohol sold in the country were sold via off-trade outlets like off-licences and supermarkets, this was an increase from seven in every ten units in 2019.
Additionally, the MESA report found a 10 per cent year-on-year reduction in the number of deaths caused by alcohol in 2019.
Maree Todd, Public Health Minister, said: “I welcome this report showing that total alcohol sales in 2020 fell to their lowest level for 26 years.
“The study provides valuable insight allowing us to gauge the impact of alcohol sales and consumption during the period of the pandemic. Clearly, COVID-19 and the associated restrictions have had a dramatic impact on the hospitality trade, but these figures demonstrate that the restrictions in place did not simply translate into an increase in the total amount of alcohol being consumed. In fact, the opposite is the case.
“We have already seen that alcohol sales were falling since the introduction of our world-leading Minimum Unit Pricing policy in 2018. We know that it will take longer for the full impact of reduced consumption to feed through into health-related statistics, but I am more convinced than ever that MUP is one of the main drivers in reducing alcohol harms.”
She added: “Although this is the largest recorded year-on-year reduction in alcohol sales – and the narrowest recorded gap between sales north and south of the border – it is important to bear in mind that the average number of units drunk during this period was still nearly 30% per cent more than the UK Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines of drinking no more than 14 units a week.
“In addition to these 2020 figures, the report also details a 10% reduction in the number of deaths caused wholly by alcohol in 2019. While we are on the right trajectory, this still equates tragically to nearly 20 deaths every week across Scotland – each one preventable.
“We continue to make progress in reducing inequalities across a number of public health areas – remaining focussed on addressing the underlying causes that drive health inequalities and doing more to address harms from alcohol. I am determined to build on this progress including consulting on potential restrictions to alcohol advertising and promotion.”