A REVIEW is now underway on minimum unit pricing (MUP) for alcohol in Scotland after it was delayed by the pandemic.

Scotland became the first country in the world to bring in MUP for alcohol in May 2018, with it currently fixed by the Scottish Government at 50p per unit.

It was brought in in a bid to save lives and reduce hospital admissions.

The move has helped reduce alcohol sales to their lowest since records began, but Scots are still drinking almost a third more than the low-risk drinking guidelines of 14 units per adult, per week.

And with the rate of inflation continuing to rise, there are calls for the 50p per unit limit to be hiked to ensure the desired effect is not subsumed by soaring living costs.

Charity Alcohol Focus Scotland wants to see MUP uprated to at least 65p to ensure it keeps pace with inflation and chief executive Alison Douglas said it should be index-linked going forward. 

Public Health Minister Maree Todd has announced a review into MUP is now underway and should be completed by the end of next year. 

She said: “The introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) for alcohol in Scotland has helped reduce alcohol sales to their lowest since records began.  

“I am encouraged by this downward trend in alcohol consumption. However, Scots are still drinking almost 30% more than the low-risk drinking guidelines of 14 units per adult per week.

READ MORE: Scottish Tory MPs back Boris Johnson's plan to rip up Northern Ireland Protocol

“A review of the current level of 50p per unit was delayed by the pandemic. This extensive exercise is now underway and I can confirm that it will be completed in late 2023.

“It is intended that any new price would come into effect from May 1, 2024, subject to parliamentary scrutiny and approval.”

Research showing that sales of alcohol in Scotland fell by almost 8% after the introduction of minimum pricing was hailed as “powerful, real-world evidence” of the success of the policy last month.

The National: Maree ToddMaree Todd

It was found alcohol sales in Scotland fell by 7.7% after the policy was brought in, when compared with the north-east of England.

In Wales, which introduced minimum pricing almost two years after Scotland in March last year, there was an 8.6% decrease in sales when compared with the west of England.

The research, led by Newcastle University and published in The Lancet Public Health, found: “For both Scotland and Wales, reductions in overall purchases of alcohol were largely restricted to households that bought the most alcohol.”

READ MORE: Theresa May says 'not legal' NI Protocol Bill will 'diminish' UK reputation

It concluded MUP “is an effective alcohol policy option to reduce off-trade purchases of alcohol and should be widely considered”.

Todd has also previously said she found the current levels of alcohol promotion “deeply troubling” and wants to reduce the attractiveness of booze.

She said a consultation on a number of proposals to limit alcohol advertising in Scotland would take place in the autumn.

However, key powers over TV and radio remain in the hands of the UK Government.