Last May, six years after the law got the green light in Holyrood, minimum unit pricing of alcohol was finally introduced in Scotland. After being held up by appeals from Scottish drinks manufacturers, campaigners and politicians could at last use the latest and greatest weapon against the scourge of inebriation. Alcohol can no longer be sold for less than 50 pence per unit in Scotland. Surely the imbibers of cheap cider and supermarket beer deals would now have to curb their habits?
Well, the first proper results are in – and the policy has been about as potent as a lager shandy. Nielsen, a data specialist company, found that 203.5million litres of alcohol were purchased from shops in Scotland over the 46 weeks to 29 March. Minimum pricing should have, according to Scottish government figures, raised the price of roughly half of all alcohol sold in shops. Yet the figures suggest an increase in sales of 1.8million litres on the same period in 2017/2018. That’s hardly what the anti-booze lobbyists would have expected.
Bravo the Scots.