Michael Matheson is set to hike Scotland's minimum unit pricing (MUP) for alcohol by 30%.

In a statement to Holyrood this afternoon, the Scottish Government will likely confirm the jump from 50p to 65p.

That means a 700ml bottle of Scotch whisky will now cost a minimum of £18.20, while a bottle of vodka or gin will have a minimum price of £17.07.

A pack of four 440ml cans of cider will cost at least £5.15, while a four pack of beer will cost at least £5.72.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED IN FIVE Minimum Unit Pricing increase explained ahead of statement

Any increase in price will be fiercely resisted by industry.

Ahead of the statement, due to be delivered by Deputy First Minister Shona Robison following the resignation of Michael Matheson, Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (Shaap), which represents frontline doctors, called on the government to hold their nerve.

Chairman Dr Alastair MacGilchrist said there was “clear evidence” minimum pricing has helped tackle alcohol-related harm in Scotland.

He added: “As an organisation representing doctors who work on the frontline, we understand how essential MUP is in tackling Scotland’s alcohol crisis.

“However, we also know that the value at which MUP has been set has now been significantly eroded, and is now too low to work at its optimum in saving lives.

"We are hopeful that - at this critical point - Scotland’s politicians do the right thing for public health and vote for it to continue and be uprated.

“The evidence is clear: MUP saves lives.”

David Hume, GMB Scotland’s organiser in the drinks industry, said there was "no substantive evidence" MUP was helping problem drinkers. He said the policy was having a disastrous impact on  "one of Scotland’s most successful industries".

The union polled workers in the industry last year and found that 64% wanted MUP scrapped entirely, while another third opposed any increase, saying it would put jobs at risk.

Mr Hume said: “The case for continuing minimum unit price on alcohol never mind increasing it gets weaker with every piece of research.

“First, we were told it would help save lives of problem drinkers. Now we are told it is about curbing the intake of moderate drinkers but there is no substantive evidence to suggest it is doing either of those things.

“While the jury remains out on the health benefits, the risk of undermining one of Scotland’s most successful industries risking investment and jobs could not be more real.”

READ MORE: Analysis - If the heaviest drinkers didn't cut down, how has minimum pricing 'saved lives'?

Last year, a report by Public Health Scotland said MUP had prevented hundreds of deaths and hospital admissions, however, it said there was "limited evidence" that it reduced consumption among the heaviest drinkers.


The report said the policy had prevented roughly 150 deaths and 400 hospital admissions per year on average from alcohol.

Though, in reality, the number of alcohol-specific deaths in Scotland rose from 1,120 in 2017 - the year before MUP - to a 13-year high of 1,245 in 2021, the most recent year for which data is available.

The mortality rate also climbed by 9% over the same period, from 20.5 to 22.3 deaths per 100,000.

The number of alcohol deaths in Scotland was at the highest level since 2008 in 2021.

Nevertheless, PHS said that the picture in Scotland would have been even worse without MUP.

They said the most significant effect had been on male drinkers aged 65 years or older, and people living in the 40% most deprived areas in Scotland.

The final report did warn that there was "limited evidence to suggest that MUP was effective in reducing consumption for those people with alcohol dependence".

It said that some alcoholics on low incomes "may have experienced harm, such as withdrawal, reduced expenditure on food or increased intoxication possibly from switching to spirits as a consequence of MUP" and require "timely and evidence-based treatment and wider support that addresses the root cause of their dependence".

The policy took effect in May 2018, but there is a 'sunset clause' built into the legislation, which means MSPs need to act now before it expires.

Alcohol Focus Scotland chief executive Alison Douglas said hundreds of people were "alive today because of minimum unit pricing."

She added: "This is both good for people’s health and relieves pressure on our NHS.

“To keep it at the current level of 50p would mean the positive effects we’ve seen will be reversed, condemning hundreds more people and families to unnecessary suffering and loss.”

The Institute for Economic Affairs think tank branded MUP a “folly".

Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics, said: “With deaths from alcohol abuse at a 14-year high, it is obvious that minimum pricing is not an evidence-based policy.

“The official evaluation overwhelmingly showed that the policy has failed but it is a political project and the Scottish Government was always going to stick with it, come what may.

“Scottish drinkers have paid dearly for the folly of minimum pricing and they will now have to pay even more.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Research commended by public health experts estimated that our world-leading Minimum Unit Pricing policy saved hundreds of lives, likely averted hundreds of alcohol-attributable hospital admissions and contributed to reducing health inequalities.

“Since our public consultation closed in November 2023, we have been reviewing respondent feedback as well as the wide range of evidence relating to MUP.

“The Health Secretary will deliver a statement on MUP in Parliament on Thursday.”