A leading advocate of minimum unit pricing in Scotland has backed the idea of reviewing the policy in the event of “unintended consequences”. Scottish Health Action of Alcohol Problems is a prominent supporter of the move, which will see a 50p minimum unit price put in place at the beginning of May.
According to estimates from the Scottish government, a 50p minimum unit price would cut alcohol-related deaths by 392 and hospital admissions by 8,254 in the first five years of the policy.
However, Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems has said it would be right to look again at the policy if it does not work out as planned.
For instance, spokesman Dr Eric Carlin said a “substantial increase in online purchase of cheap alcohol” would be enough to prompt a “thorough review to find out what’s going on and to address this”.
Nevertheless, Dr Carlin told the Times there is “strong evidence that the benefits of the new law in terms of health gains are likely to far outweigh any potential difficulties”.
A Scottish government spokesman added that minimum unit pricing will lead to hundreds of lives being saved and cut the number of alcohol-related hospital admissions in Scotland.
The representative went on to stress that the impact of the policy will be monitored as part of a “wide-ranging” independent evaluation programme, which includes “research examining how alcohol is purchased and the economic effect on the industry.”
Meanwhile, a study by HIM! has found that 24 per cent of Scottish retailers still do not feel prepared for minimum unit pricing, just a week before it comes into place.
Respondents raised concerns about several areas including visit frequency, redundant categories and a drop in spend.
In addition, 70 per cent of retailers said they are considering range changes as a result of minimum unit pricing.
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