Minimum unit alcohol price rises to 65p
The minimum unit price (MUP) for alcohol in Scotland will rise to 65 pence.
Previously 50p, the increase takes into account rising inflation since the mechanism first came into effect in 2018.
Deputy first minister Shona Robison, who was making the statement due to the resignations of both Michael Matheson and Elena Whitham, said MUP had to increase in order to remain effective.
She said: “I can confirm it is our intention to lay draft orders before parliament to continue minimum unit pricing beyond 30 April and to set the price per unit at 65 pence.”
She said the policy had had a “positive impact” on health outcomes and “no clear negative impact” on the alcohol industry.
But acknowledging concerns from the sector and retailers, she said the government had agreed to create an “implementation window” meaning the new price will not come into effect until 30 September.
Modelling suggests the new price will prevent 60 alcohol specific-deaths and 774 fewer hospital admissions in the first year, the cabinet secretary added.
MUP was first proposed in legislation passed in 2012 but it took several years to come into effect following repeated court challenges.
The Scottish Government ultimately won the right to introduce it in November 2017 and the 50p fee was added to alcohol from May 2018.
The legislation obligated ministers to review its effect after five years.
Various reports have linked MUP to a drop in alcohol sales and a reduction in alcohol deaths.
However, Scotland still struggles with alcohol-related diseases, with 1,276 Scots dying in 2022 – the latest year for which there are figures.
Conservative health spokesman Sandesh Gulhane said it was “not accurate” to say MUP had reduced deaths as figures were at a 14-year high, and accused the Scottish Government of having “abandoned” problem drinkers.
But Robison said that, according the public health experts, there would have been a greater number of alcohol deaths had MUP not been in place.
Scottish Labour’s public health spokesperson said her party backed MUP but said it must be “part of a wider package of measures”. She called for the revenue raised from MUP to be invested into other mechanisms for tackling alcohol harm.
Robison said the government would give “due consideration” to a public health supplement.