Scotland investigates minimum price impact

An Edinburgh university is to investigate what impact, if any, Scotland’s alcohol policies will have on its heaviest drinkers.

Queen Margaret University has been awarded a research grant by Scotland’s Chief Scientist Office and Alcohol Research UK to explore the issue.

The study, conducted by researchers Professor Jonathan Chick and Dr Jan Gill, of the university’s School of Health Sciences, will look into the effects of a minimum unit price on alcohol as well as other measures, such as a ban on multi-buy deals.

It will take place over three years and focus on around 500 severe drinkers in Edinburgh and Glasgow who are suffering alcohol-related illnesses and are believed to buy cheaper drinks than other Scottish consumers.

Chick said: “Pricing measures can reduce health harms from alcohol in two ways: by reducing the numbers newly recruited into heavy drinking, and by helping to moderate the drinking patterns of already established heavy drinkers. 

“Our research will look at the factors which influence the habits of severe drinkers before and after the introduction of minimum unit pricing. In our pilot study, we established that this group particularly consume cheap ciders and vodka, which might be particularly damaging for brain and liver cells. 

“We will also look at whether they turn to sourcing drink from outside Scotland or begin to consume illicit or substitute alcohols or other intoxicants.”

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “We are pleased to be able to support this important piece of independent research, which will provide valuable information on the impact of our proposed legislation. The research is timely and complementary to the Scottish Government Health Directorates’ overall research programme, which is in place to monitor and evaluate the impact of our Alcohol Framework.”

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