MINIMUM pricing has had no effect on alcohol consumption among teenagers in Scotland, according to a new study.

Researchers found that those who wanted to could "fund the additional cost".

The study, commissioned by NHS Health Scotland, asked 50 adolescents aged 13 to 17 who were known to have been drinking before the legislation came in about their current habits.

It found money and price changes were not perceived as barriers to drinking by young people.

Overall the teenagers did not report changing what they drank, how much they drank or how they obtained their alcohol, in response to price alone.

Many of the products favoured by the young people were, on average, already being sold above the MUP threshold of 50 pence per unit prior to the law change in May 2018.

Ian Clark, director at Iconic Consulting, who carried out the research, said: “Overall, our findings suggest that the introduction of MUP had limited impact on the alcohol consumption of the children and young people participating in this study, and no reported impact on their related behaviour.

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"This study provides an important understanding of the wider context surrounding those young people’s experiences with alcohol – and it is clear that price is only one factor in the often challenging life circumstances of young people who drink.

“Whilst several of the alcoholic drinks popular with young people were already being sold above 50 pence per unit, where they did observe the price of their favoured drink rise after May 2018, the young people reported being able to fund the additional cost.”

Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said the study provided a "concerning" insight into the lives of teenage drinkers.

She said: “The apparent ease with which these young people are able to acquire alcohol raises serious questions about enforcement of existing licensing legislation and age-verification arrangements which are there to protect young people.

"It is also deeply worrying that adults are regularly providing under 18s with drink, despite the potential effects of alcohol on brain development and on young people’s wider mental and physical health."

NHS Health Scotland said the study was designed to help understand the lived experience of the young people who took part and should not be seen as representative of all young people in Scotland.

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Jane Ford, principal public health intelligence advisor at NHS Health Scotland, said: “Whilst the findings published today show that implementation of MUP was not perceived to affect participant’s consumption, there were no reported negative impacts on alcohol-related harms amongst the children and young people in this study.

“A number of further studies are due to be undertaken as part of our evaluation, which will assess the impact of MUP on protecting children and young people from harm”.