DRINKERS have cut down their intake of alcohol since the introduction of a ban on multi-buy promotions in Scotland 18 months ago.

The equivalent of almost 4.5 million fewer bottles of wine have been sold in the country since the crackdown, compared to the 12 months beforehand, health chiefs have revealed.

A report published shows a total of 2.6% decrease in the amount of alcohol sold per adult in Scotland in the year following the introduction of the Alcohol etc (Scotland) Act in October 2011

Researchers at NHS Health Scotland and Glasgow University found the act, which included a ban on multi-buy promotions, was associated with a 4% drop in the amount of wine sold in Scotland's supermarkets and off-licences – the equivalent to 4.5 million bottles.

It was also credited with an 8.5% decline in the amount of pre-mixed alcohol drinks, including alcopops, sold in Scotland, although these account for only 1% of the total alcohol market.

The Alcohol Act included a ban on "quantity-based discounts" such as "buy-two-get-one-free" and restrictions on the display and promotion of alcohol in Scotland's off-sales trade.

The report states: "The results from this study suggest the introduction of the Alcohol Act reduced off-trade alcohol consumption in Scotland, driven by statistically significant decreases in off-trade wine and RTD [ready to drink] sales. Similar changes were not observed in England and Wales, where the Act does not apply."

Mark Robinson, public health information manager at NHS Health Scotland who led the study, said: "The Alcohol Act has had the intended impact of reducing alcohol consumption in Scotland by placing restrictions on how alcohol is displayed and promoted.

"Although these effects are welcome, alcohol consumption in Scotland remains high and a large proportion of alcohol is still sold at relatively low prices. There is good evidence to show that the positive effects of the Alcohol Act would be enhanced by minimum unit pricing, which would prevent the sale of cheap, high-strength alcohol."