Why do the Scots want minimum pricing of alcohol?

Scotland Substance abuse

Liver disease in ScotlandThis shows the comparison of rates of liver disease in Scotland against other European countries, and against England and Wales.

As alcohol becomes more affordable, consumption increases; as consumption increases, harm increases.

The Scottish Government is proposing to introduce a Minimum Unit Price for alcohol so that the harm caused by cheap, strong alcohol is significantly reduced. The Minimum Unit Price is based on the number of UK units of alcohol (10 mls of pure alcohol) in a product multiplied by 50p (€0.601) per unit which is the Scottish Government’s preferred price.

UK alcohol affordability index versus alcohol-related discharge rates (Scotland), 1982-20109
UK alcohol affordability index versus alcohol-related discharge rates (Scotland), 1982-2010/9

The Scottish Government’s case is that increased taxation would not – and cannot – deliver the targeted impact on hazardous and harmful drinkers that is so vital. The untargeted nature of taxation means that any attempt to design an excise regime capable of delivering a similar effect to a 50p Minimum Unit Price would, inevitably, mean a significant increase in the price of all products, regardless of their contribution to alcohol-related harm. Such increases – roughly £3.30 (€4) increase on the price of all 75cl bottles of wine, or an extra £5 (€6) on a bottle of spirits – would be both unnecessary and unjustifiable in health terms.