Scottish Government
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Minimum pricing myths debunked

A survey of supermarket drink prices has shown that minimum pricing will target cheap, high-strength products while leaving others untouched.

Ahead of a debate in Parliament today, the findings show how the policy would be an effective, targeted measure to reduce consumption among problem drinkers.

Since almost all drinks in pubs and clubs are already sold well above any likely minimum price, the measure will target the cheapest products sold in shops and supermarkets, where the majority of alcohol is now bought.

Comparing the lowest available supermarket prices for a representative selection of spirits, beers, ciders and wines with an illustrative 40p per unit minimum price, the results clearly demonstrate that the overwhelming majority would see no change to their price.

Key findings include:

  • Nearly all recognised brands of Scotch whisky are already sold for more than the illustrative minimum price of £11.20
  • The majority of large bottles of cheap white cider, which often have a high alcohol content, would see their prices rise, with some more than doubling
  • The vast majority of recognised beer and wine brands favoured by responsible drinkers would see no change in their price.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: "These figures shatter the myth that minimum pricing would punish responsible drinkers. The truth is that the great majority of drinks would see no price rise at all.

"In fact, it would be the high-strength products sold for rock-bottom prices and favoured by problem drinkers that would see their cost increase - in some cases more than doubling. Health experts say this would make the heaviest drinkers reduce their consumption.

"Previous research has already shown that minimum pricing could help save hundreds of lives every year, prevent thousands of illnesses and crimes and save Scottish taxpayers millions of pounds. The opponents of minimum pricing need to explain why they object to these aims.

"They should also make clear what they would do instead to tackle a problem that costs Scotland at least 2.25 billion pounds each year - more than 500 pounds for every adult.

"I would call on everyone who cares about Scotland's health to listen to the real evidence about the benefits of minimum pricing, rather than being swayed by lobbyists whose only concern is their own profits."

Independent research from the University of Sheffield, published on September 28 this year, showed how minimum pricing, combined with a ban on irresponsible off-sales promotions could save lives, reduce illness and cut crime, as well as reducing the burden on Scottish public services and the economy.

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