The amount of alcohol purchased from stores in Scotland has fallen since the introduction of a minimum unit price, research shows.
Analysis of unlicensed sales during the year following the introduction of the lower limit of 50 pence per unit in May 2018 shows a 3.6% drop in the volume of pure alcohol sold per adult in Scotland, from 7.4 to 7.1 liters.
This equates to a reduction of 26 units per year – about 12 pints of medium strength beer.
Despite the reduction, sales are equivalent to every adult in Scotland drinking around 27 bottles of vodka per year.
Cider sales fell the most sharply, by 18.6% per adult, with prices rising 13p per unit on average to 56p.
Fortified wine – priced the same from 60 pence per unit – was the only beverage category to show an increase, up 16.4%.
The results show an average price increase of 5p per unit to 60p immediately after the minimum unit price change.
Spirits fell 3.8%, wines 3% and beer sales 1.1%.
Beer and spirits both rose 6p per unit on average, to 57p and 58p respectively, while wine jumped 14p to around 61p.
The amount of alcohol purchased off-license in England and Wales increased over the same period, rising from 6.3% to 6.5%, but still below Scottish sales.
South of the border, sales per adult rose 8.2% for cider, 7% for beer and 5.6% for spirits, but declined 1.3% for wine and 11.2% for fortified wine.
NHS Health Scotland’s report of studies it conducted in-house or commissioned found trends in the north of England were similar to those elsewhere in England and Wales overall and said that this indicates that cross-border sales are “unlikely to explain the difference” in sales in Scotland compared to elsewhere in the UK.
Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: âThis is a first full year of promising data, following our leading action to introduce a minimum unit price (MUP).
“The 3.6% drop in non-commerce sales per adult shows that we are clearly moving in the right direction, especially compared to England and Wales where there was a 3.2% increase .
“This drop in sales equates to 26 less units of alcohol per person per year, on average, purchased from retailers.”
He added: ‘We have seen a change in the average price of alcohol, with the average price per unit increasing by around 5p in Scotland compared to England and Wales.
âAlthough the impact of reducing consumption may take a little longer to manifest, I remain convinced that MUP is a major driver of alcohol harm reduction. “
He urged the UK government to set up a 9 p.m. watershed for alcohol ads, or delegate the necessary power to Scotland, saying this would provide additional protection against alcohol.
Lucie Giles, Public Health Intelligence Advisor at NHS Health Scotland, said: “This is the first time that we have been able to analyze sales data covering the full year following the introduction of the MUP and it is encouraging that non-commercial alcohol sales have plummeted in Scotland following its implementation. “