The preferred minimum price for alcohol will be 50p per unit, it was announced today by The Scottish Government.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said that, at this level, the price was equivalent to the 45p per unit set in 2010 after taking account of inflation. She also said that setting the price at this level would have significant health and social benefits.

Ms Sturgeon made the announcement during a visit to a gastroenterology ward at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, where 80 per cent of patients are in hospital because of alcohol misuse. She met with Dr Ewan Forrest, a consultant gastroenterologist who specialises in treating alcoholic liver disease.

Ms Sturgeon said:-

“Cheap alcohol comes at a price and now is the time to tackle the toll that Scotland’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol is taking on our society. Too many Scots are drinking themselves to death. The problem affects people of all walks of life. It’s no coincidence that as affordability has increased, alcohol-related hospital admissions have quadrupled, and it is shocking that half of our prisoners now say they were drunk when they committed the offence. It’s time for this to stop. Introducing a minimum price per unit will enable us to tackle these problems, given the clear link between affordability and consumption.

“There is now a groundswell of support for the policy across the medical profession, police forces, alcohol charities and from significant parts of the drinks and licensed trade industry who recognise the benefits minimum pricing can bring – saving lives and reducing crime.

“Since 45p was first proposed as the minimum price 18 months ago, we have seen inflation of around five per cent.  A minimum price of 50p takes this into account and will achieve a similar level of public health benefits to what 45p would have achieved in 2010.”

The Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Bill is shortly to start the final stage of the parliamentary process.

The Bill looks to set a minimum price for a unit of alcohol as a condition of licence. It also sets the formula for calculating the minimum price (based on the strength of the alcohol, the volume of the alcohol and a price per unit of alcohol).

According to a minimum pricing modelling study carried out by the University of Sheffield, it is estimated by that in the first year, introducing a minimum price of 50p would see:

  • 60 fewer deaths
  • 1,600 fewer hospital admissions
  • A total value of harm reduction of £64 million
  • Around 3,500 fewer crimes per year

After 10 years, benefits would increase to:

  • Over 300 fewer deaths annually
  • 6,500 fewer hospital admissions
  • A cumulative value of harm reduction of £942 million

Chief Medical Officer Sir Harry Burns said:

“For too long too many Scots have drunk too much and now it’s time for tough action to address this.

“I strongly support minimum pricing, as part of a wider framework of action, as the best chance we have of reducing Scotland’s harmful levels of alcohol consumption.

“Alcohol-related disease and violence are costing the NHS millions of pounds every year and this cannot be allowed to continue.”

Support for minimum pricing has come from all quarters – the Welsh Government, Northern Ireland Executive, the majority of the health and sport committee, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, all 17 of Scotland’s public health directors in NHS Scotland, the British Medical Association, the Royal Colleges, ACPOS, Scottish Licensed Trade Association, Church of Scotland, various children’s charities, Tennents and Greene King.

The Scottish Government have issued this table of the Impact of 50p on various alcoholic drinks:

ProductABVUnitsPrices as at 2 March 2012Price per unit of alcoholMinimum price at 50p/unitIncrease
Tesco Strong dry cider, 4x440ml5.39.3£1.8020p£4.67£2.87
Tesco Value dry cider, 2 litres4.28.4£1.6921p£4.20£2.51
Blackthorn dry cider, 12x440ml5.529.0£11.9942p£14.52£2.53
Strongbow, 4x440ml5.39.3£3.9943p£4.67£0.68
Gaymers Old English, 4x440ml4.57.9£3.8950p£3.96£0.07
Bulmers, 6x568ml4.515.3£9.0059p£7.67Not affected
Magners, 4x440ml4.57.9£4.7961p£3.96Not affected
Vodka and Gin      
Tesco Value vodka, 70cl37.526.2£8.7234p£13.13£4.41
Glen’s vodka, 70cl37.526.2£11.2944p£13.13£1.84
Vladivar Classic, 70cl37.526.2£13.2951p£13.13Not affected
Gordon’s gin, 70cl37.526.2£15.5960p£13.13Not affected
Smirnoff Red Label, 70cl37.526.2£16.0762p£13.13Not affected
Tesco Value, 70cl40.028£9.9736p£14.00£4.03
Tesco Special Reserve, 70cl40.028£11.9943p£14.00£2.01
Bell’s, 70cl40.028£15.5956p£14.00Not affected
Whyte and MacKay, 70cl40.028£15.7957p£14.00Not affected
Grants, 70cl40.028£16.5059p£14.00Not affected
Famous Grouse, 70cl40.028£17.0061p£14.00Not affected
Johnnie Walker Red Label, 70cl40.028£17.9965p£14.00Not affected
Chivas Regal 12 yr old, 70cl40.028£24.7989p£14.00Not affected
Glenfiddich single malt 12 yrs, 70cl40.028£24.6789p£14.00Not affected
Beer and lager      
Tesco Lager 4x500ml4.08£2.2428p£4.00£1.76
Carlsberg Special Brew 4x440ml9.015.8£6.7943p£7.92£1.13
Tennents Super Lager 4x440ml9.015.8£6.7943p£7.92£1.13
Red Stripe 4x440ml4.78.3£4.4855p£4.14Not affected
Stella Artois 4x440ml4.07.0£3.9957p£3.52Not affected
Carling 4x440ml4.17.2£4.2960p£3.61Not affected
Carlsberg 4x440ml3.86.7£4.2965p£3.35Not affected
Silver Rock Chardonnay 750ml12.59.4£3.1935p£4.69£1.50
Tesco South African White 750ml129£3.3738p£4.50£1.13
Tesco Simply Chenin Blanc 750ml12.59.4£3.4938p£4.69£1.20
Blossom Hill Californian Red 750ml12.59.4£4.6850p£4.69£0.01
Echo Falls Merlot, 750ml139.8£6.4967p£4.88Not affected
Blossom Hill Chardonnay, 750ml139.8£6.6969p£4.88Not affected
Black Tower Rivaner, 750ml9.57.1£4.9971p£3.57Not affected
Hardy’s Cabernet Merlot, 750ml13.510.1£10.99£1.09£5.07Not affected