Scotland has made history today (Tuesday, 1 May 2018) as it became the first country to implement a minimum unit price for alcohol.
The minimum 50p per unit price has been welcomed by the medical professional and health campaigners as the biggest breakthrough in public health since the ban on smoking in public. The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has hailed the policy, designed to cut alcohol-related harm, as “bold and brave” as it was finally brought in across the country.
Minimum unit pricing represents one of many ways to reduce the affordability of alcohol, and specifically impacts on those who consume low cost – high strength alcohol, for example the large plastic bottles of cheap cider available on the bottom shelf of “Bargain Booze”.
Drinkers of these drinks account for a disproportionately high percentage of alcohol-related hospital admissions and deaths and therefore focussing on limiting the affordability of these drinks should reduce the burden of alcohol to our already over-stretched health service.
Models of the effects of this policy, introduced in Scotland today after years of legal challenge, suggest that over 100 deaths and 2000 hospital admissions in Scotland could be avoided.
If implemented in England, over 1000 lives could be saved and 17,000 hospital admissions avoided per year.