New support for Alcohol Minimum Unit Pricing.

July 7th 2016

Thank you to Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) for the following article.

Scottish Health Professionals welcome new report from Edinburgh University Law School, backing Scottish Government’s Alcohol Minimum Unit Pricing case

As the Alcohol Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) court case returns to the Court of Session on 7 and 8 July, SHAAP (Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems) welcomes a new academic study which strongly supports the moral and legal validity of this Public Health measure.

 The new study, by Dr Arianna Andreangeli, Making markets work in the interest of public health: the case of the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012, draws on the experience of a number of Canadian provinces that show that minimum unit pricing may well be the most effective tool to address the health-related and social ills arising from alcohol consumption.

Dr Andreangeli calls on the Scottish Court of Session to be “courageous” and…’to embrace the “brave new world” of price controls as tools of “genuine” public interest regulation. The Scottish Government’s legislation continues to be blocked by a consortium of global alcohol producers, fronted by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

Dr Andreangeli asserts that the SWA case, ‘pits the demands of free, competitive and efficient markets against the protection of high levels of public health in light of the needs of Scotland’s population’.

The author ‘strongly suggests’ that:

“minimum pricing rules, compared with other price-based policy tools, may be more effective in achieving the reduction of demand- and, consequently, of alcohol-related health and social damage, especially among disadvantaged layers of the Scottish population.”

Dr Andreangeli argues that experience in Canada has shown that Minimum Unit Pricing legislation has had direct effects on alcohol-related mortality: in British Columbia, in the years between 2002 and 2009, a generalised increase in the minimum price by 1% was estimated to lead to an immediate, substantial and significant reduction in “wholly alcohol-attributable” deaths–i.e. deaths that find their “underlying cause” in the alcohol consumption–of 3%.  The same study highlighted an immediate reduction of mortality of 35.25% overall as a result of an increase by 10% on the price of spirits and a lagged reduction in years 1 and 2 following the same increase in the price for cider and coolers (i.e. mixed drinks).

Eric Carlin, Director of SHAAP, said:

“The MUP legislation has not been implemented because of the ongoing legal challenge by global producers, led by the SWA, prioritising profits over health. This new research provides important additional support for the Scottish Government’s case.

“Twenty-two people die every week in Scotland because of alcohol. The Scottish medical professions have to deal with the harms caused by cheap, strong alcohol, sold for as little as 18p per unit, which devastates the lives of individuals, families and communities.

“I hope that the Court of Session will make its decision, in favour of MUP, wisely and swiftly, in the interests of the people, reducing the burden on GPs, hospital and emergency services and the distress and harms caused to Scottish people.”

 About SHAAP

Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) provides the authoritative medical and clinical voice on the need to reduce the impact of alcohol related harm on the health and wellbeing of people in Scotland and the evidence-based approaches to achieve this. As a partnership, it is governed by an Executive Committee made up of members of the Royal Colleges.

For further information and comment contact:

Eric Carlin (Director) SHAAP: 0750 5081784 and shaap.director@rcpe.ac.uk

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