Scottish government considers MUP increase

The Scottish government has launched a proposal to increase the Minimum Unit Price.

The Scottish government has launched a proposal to increase the Minimum Unit Price (MUP) of alcohol by 15p per unit to 65p, causing more concern for the country's pub and bar operators.

As part of a new consultation on the future of the public health policy, views are being sought on whether to continue the MUP legislation beyond the current term, which ends next April, and the level at which MUP should be set.

"The recent rise in alcohol-specific deaths highlights the need for more to be done to tackle alcohol-related harm," says drugs and alcohol policy minister Elena Whitham.

"Our world-leading MUP policy is one of the measures we know can make a difference. Recent research estimated it has saved hundreds of lives, likely averted hundreds of alcohol-attributable hospital admissions each year, and also contributed to reducing health inequalities. It is one of a range of measures we have in place across prevention and treatment services to reduce alcohol harm.

"We believe the proposals set out in this consultation strike a reasonable balance between public health benefits and any effects on the alcoholic drinks market and subsequent impact on consumers, but we want to hear from all sides and urge everyone to take the time to respond."

'Not welcome at this time'

Whitham references a Scottish government report on the operation and effect of MUP in its first five years, which has recently been published, as well as an Interim Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment and a report on public attitudes to the policy. These papers assess the success of the measure so far and look at the future impact on health and industry sectors if it is continued, and the potential effects of different minimum price levels.

"We will be responding fully to the consultation, but our immediate view is that this increase will not be welcomed at the current time," says a spokesperson for the Scottish Beer & Pub Association. "The is a real danger that the majority of people, who drink responsibly and stick within the CMOs guidelines, will be negatively impacted at the check-out. The Scottish government should carefully consider the timing of such a drastic increase."

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