Scots retailers have told the Scottish Government that plans to hike the minimum unit price (MUP) of alcohol go too far.

A new consultation on shopkeepers proposes a range of new prices, from below the current rate of 50p to “80p+”.

The potential rise was welcomed by Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems, who said the current level had been "eroded by inflation."

READ MORE: Minimum unit pricing 'prevented hundreds of alcohol deaths'

Scotland's landmark MUP policy took effect in May 2018.

Under the terms of a 'sunset clause' built into the legislation, MUP would automatically expire from May 2024 unless MSPs vote to extend it.

A recent evaluation by Public Health Scotland found that MUP prevented hundreds of deaths and hospital admissions.

Though there was "limited evidence" that it reduced consumption among the heaviest drinkers.



PHS said the current minimum unit policy had prevented roughly 150 deaths and 400 hospital admissions per year on average from alcohol.



Despite that, alcohol deaths were at their highest level since 2008.

READ MORE: Minimum pricing - how do you count deaths that never happened?

The Federation of Independent Retailers said an increase to 80p would go too far.

The federation’s president, Hussan Lal, said: “We can see the argument for increasing the price which has been in place for five years. However, over 80p is over the top.

“This could price out those who look forward to a beer or a glass of wine. It would be particularly hard when family budgets are already badly squeezed by the cost-of-living crisis.

“We welcome any reduction in harmful levels of drinking. It undoubtedly blights many lives.”


Dr Alastair MacGilchrist, chairman of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (Shaap), said: “Minimum unit pricing has achieved its intended effect of reducing alcohol consumption and harms.

“This has been evidenced by the PHS final evaluation, which was published last month.

“However, as long as the level remains fixed at 50p - the level proposed when approved by Parliament 11 years ago and unchanged since it came into effect in 2018 - the effectiveness of MUP is being continuously eroded by inflation, currently running at 8.7%.”

He called for an uplift to at least 65p when MSPs decide on the matter later this year.

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: If the heaviest drinkers didn't cut down, then how can MUP have 'saved lives'?


Scottish Conservative MSP Tess White said the policy had been a “blunt instrument”.

She said: “Alcohol deaths are at their highest level since 2008 in Scotland on the SNP’s watch, despite minimum unit pricing being in force, and simply increasing it will not help those struggling most with addiction.

“This policy would hit the poorest Scots, the vast majority of whom are responsible drinkers when they can least afford it.

“To tackle rising alcohol deaths, the SNP should finally give their backing to our Right to Recovery Bill, which could be a game-changer in guaranteeing treatment to those suffering with alcohol addiction and has the backing of frontline experts.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “These surveys are part of the Scottish Government’s ongoing work to review the operation and effect of MUP at the current price of 50p per unit and will help inform a potential future level of MUP, should evidence support its continuation.

“The Scottish Government’s final report will be laid in Parliament later this year.

“Recent research published in the Lancet by Public Health Scotland and Glasgow University estimated that around 150 alcohol-attributable deaths and 400 alcohol-attributable hospital admissions each year have been averted since the policy was introduced, with the largest reductions in our most deprived areas.”