The volume of alcohol sold per adult in Scotland in 2018 has fallen to its lowest level since records began in 1994.

The first expert analysis of data, just over a year since Scotland became the first country in the world to introduce minimum unit pricing, shows a 3% fall in alcohol sales per adult in Scotland from the previous year.

The Scottish Government estimates that if trends continue its minimum unit pricing (MUP) strategy will save 392 lives over its first five years.

Results of the NHS Health Scotland Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland’s Alcohol Strategy (MESAS) programme found that the volume of alcohol sold per adult in Scotland was 9% higher than in England and Wales, where 9.1 litres was sold per adult.

The 2019 MESAS (Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland's Alcohol Strategy) report also said:

  • The average Scottish adult bought 19 units of alcohol per week (The UK recommended limit was 14 units a week for men and women). 
  • The annual volume of "pure alcohol" in drinks sold in Scotland was 9.9 litres per adult, down about 3% from 10.2 litres in 2017. 
  • The volume of pure alcohol sold in Scotland in 2018 was 9% higher than in England & Wales, the smallest difference since 2003. 
  • 87% of the total difference in per adult sales between Scotland and England & Wales was due to higher off-trade sales in Scotland. 
  • 73% of all alcohol sold in Scotland was sold through the off-trade (supermarkets and other off-licences) compared with 27% sold through the on-trade (such as pubs, clubs and restaurants). 
  • In 2017, 1,120 people died in Scotland due to a cause wholly attributable to alcohol (alcohol-specific), an average of 22 people per week. 

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:

“This is a promising start following our world-leading action to introduce minimum unit pricing, and with this 3% fall we are moving in the right direction.

“There are, on average, 22 alcohol-specific deaths every week in Scotland, and 683 hospital admissions, and behind every one of these statistics is a person, a family, and a community badly affected by alcohol harm.

“Given the clear and proven link between consumption and harm, minimum unit pricing is the most effective and efficient way to tackle the cheap, high strength alcohol that causes so much harm to so many families.”

On 1 May 2018 Scotland brought into force legislation setting a minimum 50 pence per unit price to tackle the harm caused by cheap, high strength alcohol.