Minimum Pricing

How big is Scotland’s problem with alcohol?

Scotland’s drink problem is now significantly worse than the rest of the UK. In 2010, 23% more alcohol was sold per adult in Scotland than in England & Wales, the widest gap to date. This is almost entirely accounted for by higher off-sales in Scotland. Alcohol related death rates in Scotland have doubled since early 1990s. The impact of this excessive consumption is estimated to cost Scots £3.6 billion each year. That’s £900 for every adult in Scotland

Further information can be found in the report, ‘The Societal Cost of Alcohol Misuse in Scotland for 2007’.

What is the impact of cheap alcohol on Scotland’s drink problem?

Cheap alcohol is making a bad situation worse. On average 2.2 more litres of pure alcohol per adult were sold in Scotland than in England in 2010 – 11.8 litres versus 9.6 litres. This equates to 22.8 units of alcohol per adult per week in Scotland – almost a bottle of vodka a week. Further information can be found in the report, Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland’s Alcohol Strategy (MESAS) – An update of alcohol sales and price band analyses`

What is a minimum price?

A minimum price would set a floor price for a unit of alcohol, meaning that alcohol could not be sold below that. This would not put up the price of every drink, only those which are sold at below any minimum price set. A minimum price will hit those drinks sold at an unacceptably low price relative to their alcohol content, such as cheap spirits and white cider.

Isn’t imposing a minimum price illegal?

The Scottish Government believes that the introduction of a minimum price for alcohol based on a minimum price per unit of alcohol is capable of complying with European law.

What difference will a minimum price make to the cost of alcohol?

Those who drink within sensible guidelines will only be marginally affected simply because they only consume a small amount of alcohol and also because they do not tend to buy as much of the cheaper alcohol that would be most affected by a minimum price.  The preferred 50p per unit minimum price, would increase the price of a 70cl bottle of whisky to £14. Again, the small increase in the cost of alcohol to moderate drinkers has to be seen in the context of the total costs of alcohol misuse estimates suggest around £900 per year for every adult in Scotland.

How will this help to save lives?

Scotland has a distinct problem with alcohol; increased consumption is driving increased alcohol-related harm. Plummeting prices and aggressive promotion is making a bad situation worse. A minimum price for a unit of alcohol can help reduce alcohol consumption and harm as part of a stronger package of Alcohol framework measures, including education, diversion, treatment and support. The Chief Medical Officer believes that – like the smoking ban – minimum price would save lives within a year.

How many lives would be saved?

The Sheffield report suggests that the preferred minimum price of 50p would result in 60 fewer deaths in year 1 and over 300 fewer deaths per annum by year ten.

What will be the economic benefits for Scotland?

With the preferred minimum price of 50p per unit, the total value of harm reduction for health, crime and employment in year 1 is more that £64m and over 10 years there is a cumulative value of harm reduction estimated at £942m.  The overall impact of our excessive consumption is estimated to cost Scots £3.6 billion each year.

Will minimum pricing not just result in additional revenues for supermarkets?

As happens now, it will be up to producers and retailers to negotiate on the price of contracts between them. The only direct effect of the legislation will be on what price is charged to the consumer, not what level of price is agreed earlier in the supply chain.

How will a minimum price impact on small retailers?

The introduction of a minimum price puts small retailers on more of a level playing field with the big supermarkets. Currently the supermarkets are asking the public to subsidise drinkers with their deep discounting of alcohol, which has to be paid for elsewhere through higher prices on other goods.

What about people who work in the drinks industry?

Whilst minimum price means people will consume less, they will pay more. Both off-trade and on-trade retail sectors would see increased revenues. Others in the supply chain, including producers, may also see increased revenues.

Impact of 50p:

Product ABV Units Prices as at 2 March 2012 Price per unit of alcohol Minimum price at 50p/unit Increase
Tesco Strong dry cider, 4x440ml 5.3 9.3 £1.80 20p £4.67 £2.87
Tesco Value dry cider, 2 litres 4.2 8.4 £1.69 21p £4.20 £2.51
Blackthorn dry cider, 12x440ml 5.5 29.0 £11.99 42p £14.52 £2.53
Strongbow, 4x440ml 5.3 9.3 £3.99 43p £4.67 £0.68
Gaymers Old English, 4x440ml 4.5 7.9 £3.89 50p £3.96 £0.07
Bulmers, 6x568ml 4.5 15.3 £9.00 59p £7.67 Not affected
Magners, 4x440ml 4.5 7.9 £4.79 61p £3.96 Not affected
Vodka and Gin            
Tesco Value vodka, 70cl 37.5 26.2 £8.72 34p £13.13 £4.41
Glen’s vodka, 70cl 37.5 26.2 £11.29 44p £13.13 £1.84
Vladivar Classic, 70cl 37.5 26.2 £13.29 51p £13.13 Not affected
Gordon’s gin, 70cl 37.5 26.2 £15.59 60p £13.13 Not affected
Smirnoff Red Label, 70cl 37.5 26.2 £16.07 62p £13.13 Not affected
Tesco Value, 70cl 40.0 28 £9.97 36p £14.00 £4.03
Tesco Special Reserve, 70cl 40.0 28 £11.99 43p £14.00 £2.01
Bell’s, 70cl 40.0 28 £15.59 56p £14.00 Not affected
Whyte and MacKay, 70cl 40.0 28 £15.79 57p £14.00 Not affected
Grants, 70cl 40.0 28 £16.50 59p £14.00 Not affected
Famous Grouse, 70cl 40.0 28 £17.00 61p £14.00 Not affected
Johnnie Walker Red Label, 70cl 40.0 28 £17.99 65p £14.00 Not affected
Chivas Regal 12 yr old, 70cl 40.0 28 £24.79 89p £14.00 Not affected
Glenfiddich single malt 12 yrs, 70cl 40.0 28 £24.67 89p £14.00 Not affected
Beer and lager            
Tesco Lager 4x500ml 4.0 8 £2.24 28p £4.00 £1.76
Carlsberg Special Brew 4x440ml 9.0 15.8 £6.79 43p £7.92 £1.13
Tennents Super Lager 4x440ml 9.0 15.8 £6.79 43p £7.92 £1.13
Red Stripe 4x440ml 4.7 8.3 £4.48 55p £4.14 Not affected
Stella Artois 4x440ml 4.0 7.0 £3.99 57p £3.52 Not affected
Carling 4x440ml 4.1 7.2 £4.29 60p £3.61 Not affected
Carlsberg 4x440ml 3.8 6.7 £4.29 65p £3.35 Not affected
Silver Rock Chardonnay 750ml 12.5 9.4 £3.19 35p £4.69 £1.50
Tesco South African White 750ml 12 9 £3.37 38p £4.50 £1.13
Tesco Simply Chenin Blanc 750ml 12.5 9.4 £3.49 38p £4.69 £1.20
Blossom Hill Californian Red 750ml 12.5 9.4 £4.68 50p £4.69 £0.01
Echo Falls Merlot, 750ml 13 9.8 £6.49 67p £4.88 Not affected
Blossom Hill Chardonnay, 750ml 13 9.8 £6.69 69p £4.88 Not affected
Black Tower Rivaner, 750ml 9.5 7.1 £4.99 71p £3.57 Not affected
Hardy’s Cabernet Merlot, 750ml 13.5 10.1 £10.99 £1.09 £5.07 Not affected