Minimum unit pricing (MUP) for alcohol has been implemented effectively, with compliance high among licensed premises in Scotland, according to the key findings of the first study from the MUP evaluation published by NHS Health Scotland.
As we are all aware, MUP came into force on May 1 last year and requires all licensed premises in Scotland to set a floor price of 50p per unit of alcohol, below which alcohol cannot be sold.
Establishing that licence holders are complying with the legislation is an important first step in assessing the impact of MUP.
This first study assessed how well MUP has been complied with through the experiences of inspection and enforcement practitioners who are responsible for ensuring licensing conditions (including MUP) are met.
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, practitioners confirmed that these businesses had been “largely unaffected” by the implementation of MUP. As a result, they focused on the off-trade) and reported that 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.
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. But MUP in the form we have it in Scotland hasn’t been put it in place anywhere before. That’s why it’s so important to gather evidence of its impact through a robust and comprehensive evaluation.
“This study represents a crucial foundation for the rest of our evaluation. Successful implementation is an important first step for any policy to achieve its intended outcome.
“Having now established that MUP was 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.”
Further finds from the MUP evaluation are due to be published before the end of 2019. These include:
- Economic impact on the alcohol industry in Scotland: short-term impacts
- Sales-based consumption: descriptive analysis of 12 months post-MUP sales data
- Children and young people: own drinking and related behaviour
- Children and young people: harm from others