Scottish Government Announce 50p Minimum Price

14 May 2012

Minimum price for alcohol announced.

Sturgeon says 50p per unit preferred.

The preferred minimum price for alcohol will be 50p per unit, it was announced today.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said that setting the price at this level would have significant health and social benefits.

Ms Sturgeon made the announcement during a visit to a gastroenterology ward at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, where 80 per cent of patients are there because of alcohol misuse. She met with Dr Ewan Forrest, a consultant gastroenterologist who specialises in treating alcoholic liver disease.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Cheap alcohol comes at a price and now is the time to tackle the toll that Scotland’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol is taking on our society.

“Too many Scots are drinking themselves to death. The problem affects people of all walks of life. It’s no coincidence that as the price has plummeted, alcohol consumption, crime, disorder and violence have increased. It’s time for this to stop.

“Introducing a minimum price per unit will enable us to tackle these problems, given the clear link between affordability and consumption.

 “There is now a groundswell of support for the policy across the medical profession, police forces, alcohol charities and from significant parts of the drinks and licensed trade industry who recognise the benefits minimum pricing can bring - saving lives and reducing crime.

“Since 45p was first proposed as the minimum price 18 months ago, we have seen inflation of around 5 per cent.  A minimum price of 50p takes this into account and will achieve a similar level of public health benefits to what 45p would have achieved in 2010.”

The Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Bill is shortly to start the final stage of the parliamentary process.

The Bill looks to set a minimum price for a unit of alcohol as a condition of licence. It also sets the formula for calculating the minimum price (based on the strength of the alcohol, the volume of the alcohol and a price per unit of alcohol).

According to a minimum pricing modelling study carried out by the University of Sheffield, it is estimated by that in the first year, introducing a minimum price of 50p would see:


  • 60 fewer deaths


  • 1,600 fewer hospital admissions


  • A total value of harm reduction of £64 million


  • Around 3,500 fewer crimes per year


After ten years, benefits would increase to:


  • Over 300 fewer deaths annually


  • 6,500 fewer hospital admissions


  • A cumulative value of harm reduction of £942 million


Chief Medical Officer Sir Harry Burns said: “For too long too many Scots have drunk too much and now it’s time for tough action to address this. 

“I strongly support minimum pricing, as part of a wider framework of action, as the best chance we have of reducing Scotland’s harmful levels of alcohol consumption.

“Alcohol-related disease and violence are costing the NHS millions of pounds every year and this cannot be allowed to continue.”

Support for minimum pricing has come from all quarters - the Welsh Government, Northern Ireland Executive, the majority of the health and sport committee, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish Conservatives, the Scottish Green Party, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, all 17 of Scotland's public health directors in NHS Scotland, the British Medical Association, the Royal Colleges, ACPOS, Scottish Licensed Trade Association, Church of Scotland, various children's charities, Tennents, and Greene King.



The Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Bill is currently proceeding through the Scottish Parliament. It is expected to complete this process by the end of the month and to receive  Royal Assent a few weeks later, with implementation in 2013.

The passing of the Bill will allow the Scottish Government to draft an order setting a minimum price for a unit of alcohol.  This  measure will be formally notified to the European Commission and other EU member states and after the notification period has expired, the order can be made and minimum pricing will then become an enforceable condition for the grant of an alcohol licence.

The minimum price of 50p would remain for a period of two years following implementation in order to allow the market to react and settle to the minimum price

Thereafter, the Scottish Government will carry out a policy review of the minimum price on a regular basis in order to determine whether the price needs to be changed. We intend that the policy review would be carried out biennially.

A factsheet about alcohol and supportive quotes from a range of organisations are available from Communications Healthier.