Intended for healthcare professionals


Minimum unit pricing for alcohol in Scotland

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 25 September 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l5603

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Immediate impact of minimum unit pricing on alcohol purchases in Scotland

  1. John D Mooney, senior lecturer in public health1,
  2. Eric Carlin, director2
  1. 1Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing, University of Sunderland, Sunderland, UK
  2. 2Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP), Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to: J D Mooney: john.mooney{at}

The rest of the UK should follow Scotland’s lead

As the seventh most important global risk factor for premature death and accounting for a wide range of acute and chronic morbidities,12 alcohol deservedly attracts the attention of public health policy makers. The need for effective interventions at the population level is urgent not only in Scotland—which has among the highest levels of alcohol attributable harm in Europe,3 but also across the rest of the UK.

The most effective and cost effective policies to reduce the harm from alcohol are measures that constrain the price, availability, and marketing of alcohol.4 From the empirical and econometric modelling studies available to date, it is clear that minimum unit pricing (MUP),5 which sets a floor price per unit of alcohol, has the potential to be more effective than other pricing options in reducing sales and consumption of high strength, low cost products, that cause the most health harms.

In 2018, after six years of legal challenges by global alcohol producers, Scotland became …

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