Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) for alcohol has been implemented effectively, with complaince high amongst licensed premises across Scotland.
MUP came into force on May 1, 2018, and requires all licensed premises to set a floor price of 50 pence per unit of alcohol, below which alcohol cannot be sold.
Establishing that licence holders were complying with the legislation was an important first step in assessing the impact of MUP.
NHS Health Scotland, in its first study, has found it has been implemented effectively.
Elinor Dickie, public health intelligence adviser at NHS Health Scotland and author of the report, said: “Minimum Unit Pricing has the potential to improve Scotland’s relationship with alcohol and reduce the harm it causes.
“Having established that MUP has been well implemented and compliance is high, we can be confident in assessing findings from other studies in the evaluation portfolio on the extent to which MUP has affected other outcomes.”
Licensing Standards Officers, Trading Standards Officers and police officers with a licensing remit were interviewed about their experience of implementation and compliance issues, and their perception of whether there had been any changes in the unlicensed sale of alcohol.
Owing to the higher prices typically found in the on-trade such as pubs, clubs and restaurants, it was found that these businesses had been largely unaffected by the implementation of MUP.
As a result, practitioners focused on the off-trade – convenience stores and supermarkets – and reported licensed premises were largely compliant with MUP legislation. Where examples of non-compliance were identified, all issues were considered minor and swiftly resolved.
Inspection and enforcement practitioners did not report any known increase in illegal and unlicensed alcohol activity related to the introduction of MUP.
Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “I welcome this first report in the comprehensive evaluation of Scotland’s world-leading alcohol minimum unit pricing policy.
“It is positive to hear that implementation has been so successful. After such a long delay, it was imperative that we moved quickly to put MUP in place.
“I want to thank licence holders and Licensing Standards Officers for their hard work, as well as the Scottish Grocers Federation for their support on MUP to smaller shops in urban and rural areas across the country.
“I am also pleased to note the report found no increases in illegal alcohol-related activity were identified as a result of MUP.”