Minimum pricing statistics flawed

New evidence suggests the impact of minimum pricing in Scotland on deaths from excessive alcohol consumption will be almost half what was thought.

The University of Sheffield team responsible for advising the Scottish Executive on the policy, says new data suggests the number of lives saved each year from the policy would be 119, compared with the original forecast of 210.

The drop is the result of using more up-to-date data on drinking habits and pricing – the latter supplied by Nielsen. The original forecasts were largely based on data from 2003.

However, Barbara O’Donnell, director of services at Alcohol Focus Scotland, said the new figures didn’t change the organisation’s view that minimum pricing was necessary. She said: “The recalculated figures do not alter our belief in this measure.

“Minimum pricing is one of a raft of initiatives that must be applied to turn around the Scottish drinking culture. Every life saved is a move in the right direction to reduce alcohol-related harm in Scotland.” The revised Sheffield University report says a total ban on off-trade discounting, including multibuys, would result in a 3.1% decrease in overall consumption.

The study claims a 50p-per-unit minimum price would reduce alcohol-related hospital admissions by 8,400 a year, and cut crime by 5,300 incidents. It also says retailer revenue will increase under any combination of minimum prices and a discount ban. For a 40p minimum price and a discount ban combined, overall spend would increase by 4.4%.