NICOLA Sturgeon has pledged Scotland will share “right and wrong” experiences of minimum alcohol pricing in a major report examining the success of the policy.

The First Minister has written the foreword to the World Health Organisation (WHO) study which has found health harms from alcohol in Europe could be significantly reduced by introducing restrictions on the lowest pricing a drink can be sold for.

The report looks at the experiences of the 14 countries around the world which have minimum pricing in place, including in Scotland, and the most recent evidence on the impact of the policy.

Sturgeon said the evaluation of minimum pricing was underway in Scotland and work was also being done to look at how the Covid-19 pandemic had impacted on drinking habits.

She added: “I can assure you that as First Minister, I am determined that Scotland will share our experiences – what we got right and wrong – so that others have the opportunity to learn from our work, with the aim of reducing worldwide alcohol-related harms.”

READ MORE: Alcohol sales down eight per cent since minimum pricing introduced

The First Minister said the report was clear that one of the main barriers to implementation of minimum pricing is “significant and sustained opposition” by parts of the alcohol industry.

She added: “This is why my Government has made a commitment not to engage with the alcohol industry on health policy development, health messaging campaigns, or on provision of education in schools and beyond school settings.”

Experts behind the study said evidence shows that taxing alcohol and controlling prices could prevent deaths and prevent long-term sickness linked to drink.

Examples highlighted include in British Columbia, where minimum prices were adjusted over the course of 20 years between 1989 and 2010.

For every 10% price increase, there was a 35% reduction in acute alcohol attributable hospital admissions in low-income regions – more than double the 16% fall across the province as a whole.

Minimum pricing has also been introduced in Australia’s Northern Territory, alongside dedicated police inspectors outside many outlets selling takeaway alcohol.

An evaluation found alcohol consumption had fallen by around 8% in the year first year after the introduction of these policies and sales of the cheapest alcohol dropped by 50%.

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The study said research being carried out in Scotland has covered many aspects of minimum pricing which have not yet been explored in similar detail elsewhere.

It said the clearest finding across “multiple studies” is that it has been successful in reducing alcohol consumption, but the evidence around changes in alcohol-related harm is “more complex”.

However it also pointed out there is little evidence of the concerns raised before the policy was introduced, such as cross-border purchasing of alcohol, drinkers switching to illegal drugs or negative impacts on the alcohol industry.

The report concluded: “Alcohol taxation and pricing policies have enormous potential to reduce alcohol consumption and harm across the WHO European Region.

“The evidence base for the effectiveness of the various available policy options has been developing rapidly over the past years.

“Minimum pricing and MUP policies could play an important role in reducing alcohol-related harm. As with any public health policy, minimum prices should be viewed as one part of a comprehensive suite of policies that can work in conjunction to improve public health outcomes.”