Studies investigate impact of alcohol minimum unit pricing

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RESEARCHERS investigating the impact of alcohol pricing in Scotland have said that, overall, sales have been reduced.

Following the introduction of minimum unit pricing (MUP) for alcohol in 2018, studies have looked into the effects of price changes.

During a recent podcast discussion, representatives from Public Health Scotland and Aberdeen University spoke about the influence of the policy.

Impact of MUP investigated by Aberdeen University - Research News
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They said that there is “fairly strong evidence” that overall sales of alcohol have reduced across the country, but households are spending more, as a result of the price changes.

Introducing MUP has meant that alcohol is currently sold for a minimum of 50p per unit.

Implemented in 2018, the law received royal assent in 2012, becoming the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act.

The Scottish Government are expected to review the results of the pricing changes in 2023, with ongoing research informing their decisions.

Staff at Aberdeen University are currently looking into whether increased alcohol prices are influencing other shopping decisions.

Professor Paul McNamee, of the Health Economics Research Unit at Aberdeen University, said: “Our research on Minimum Unit Pricing forms part of a portfolio of research on health behaviours looking at policy and its impact on health behaviours.

“This study looks at whether the policy has an unintended impact on food shopping and diet.

“We are looking at data from some eight thousand households, comparing the shopping habits of people in Scotland before and after the introduction of MUP with households in the North of England.”

Nutritional impacts will also be explored, alongside spending.

He added: “Our work is still ongoing but some earlier modelling suggested a rise in spending on alcohol amongst some households, so there is some concern around other unintended impacts of the policy.”

One such concern is whether, if shoppers are increasing their spending on alcohol, this might mean cutting costs elsewhere, such as on food.

Drawing on data from before and after the policy was introduced will enable this study to analyse the impact of its introduction; other factors, such as household income and number of people will also be taken into account.