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Minimum price ‘cuts drinking by half a pint a week’

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Minimum price 'cuts drinking by half a pint a week'

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PAN

The introduction of minimum prices for alcohol in Scotland appears to have reduced consumption, one study suggests.

Since May 2018, the price of alcohol should be at least 50p per unit.

The study published in the British Medical Journal analyzed the amount of alcohol purchased in stores before and after the move by the end of 2018.

He found that the amount purchased per person per week dropped 1.2 units – the equivalent of just over half a liter of beer or a measure of alcohol.

Scotland was the first country in the world to introduce a minimum price based on the strength of alcoholic beverages. The survey results led to calls for the policy to be adopted across the UK.

Wales plans to introduce minimum prices by 2020, but neither England nor Northern Ireland currently has any plans to set a cap.

Researchers, led by a team from the University of Newcastle, looked at how much alcohol people were buying in stores and supermarkets, but not in bars.

They analyzed the buying habits of 60,000 English and Scottish families between 2015 and 2018. Just over 5,000 of them were in Scotland.

English families were used as a control group to measure what would have happened if there were no minimum price in Scotland.

While households in England slightly increased their consumption, Scottish purchases fell.

The study said it generally represented a drop of 7.6%, or 1.2 units, a week per adult from what would be expected.

The team said it was about twice the expected impact before the change.

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The reductions were most noticeable for beer, spirits and ciders, including private label distilled beverages and high-strength white ciders, and were the largest among the heaviest consumers.

But the team acknowledged that long-term follow-up was needed to see if the decline was sustained, as there was some evidence that in the later months of 2018 consumption had begun to rise again.

Lead researcher Peter Anderson said: "You would expect a certain level of initial impact, but I think the findings are sufficient to suggest that the minimum price is effective and should be adopted across the UK."

Eric Carlin of Edinburgh's Royal College of Physicians agreed that the evidence was compelling, but said the risk of alcohol consumption was a "complex" public health issue.

"No political leverage should be seen as a panacea," he added.

Scottish public health minister Joe Fitzpatrick said the findings were "very encouraging".

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