Balance welcomes new study on Minimum Unit Price in Scotland
North East alcohol campaigners have welcomed a new study which links Scotland’s policy of a Minimum Unit Price for alcohol with a 13% drop in the number of deaths from alcohol consumption, and hundreds fewer hospitalisations.
Fresh and Balance, the region’s tobacco and alcohol programme, say the findings provide more evidence that cheap alcohol fuels death and illness and raising the price saves lives.
The findings of the study in the Lancet states that: “MUP in Scotland was associated with a significant 13·4% reduction in deaths wholly attributable to alcohol consumption. Effects were driven by significant improvements in chronic outcomes, particularly alcoholic liver disease.
“Furthermore, MUP legislation was associated with a reduction in deaths and hospitalisations wholly attributable to alcohol consumption in the four most socioeconomically deprived deciles in Scotland.”
In the North East 47% of adults and 6/10 men are drinking above the Chief Medical Officer “low risk” guidelines, raising risks of heart disease, stroke and at least seven types of cancer. Balance is arguing that MUP in England would have the potential for similar results in England and particularly in the North East, where alcohol harms are at similar levels to Scotland.
Susan Taylor, Head of Alcohol Policy for Fresh and Balance, said: “This study gives us yet more evidence that cheap alcohol fuels illness and death and raising the price of the cheapest, strongest alcohol saves lives.
“In England it is still possible to drink over a week’s worth of alcohol for less than a fiver, fuelling alcohol problems that affect hospitals, police forces and our economy.
“The potential for MUP in England would have a significant impact on health in the North East where nearly half of adults are drinking above the guidelines and we are calling on the Government for evidence-based action to save lives, reduce hospital admissions and help our economy.”
Liver disease deaths in the UK have soared by 400% since 1970 and the North East saw the worst rates of alcohol specific deaths in 2020 and 2021.
In 2019-20 there were almost 980 thousand estimated hospital admissions in England where the primary reason for hospital admission or a secondary diagnosis was linked to alcohol.