Sheffield University study claims minimum unit alcohol price will save 120 lives a year

Scotland's decision to bring in a minimum price per unit for alcohol will save 120 lives a year once it takes full effect, experts who researched the impact of the policy at the University of Sheffield have said.
Scotland's decision to bring in a minimum price per unit for alcohol will save 120 lives a year once it takes full effect, experts who researched the impact of the policy at the University of Sheffield have said.

Scotland's decision to bring in a minimum price per unit for alcohol will save 120 lives a year once it takes full effect, experts who researched the impact of the policy at the University of Sheffield have said.

The Scottish Government commissioned the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group at the University of Sheffield to examine the case for a minimum unit price.

Professor Petra Meier said: ''It is estimated that once it has reached its full effect, the introduction of a 50p minimum unit price in Scotland would result in 120 fewer alcohol-related deaths and 2,000 fewer hospital admissions per year.''

Official figures showed there were 1,265 alcohol related deaths in Scotland in 2016 - a rise of 10 per cent on the previous year and the highest total since 2010.

Fatalities among men were higher than for women, at 867 compared with 398 for females.

The increase in deaths of 115 was the third largest on record, according to the National Records of Scotland, coming behind rises of 151 (18 per cent) in 1996 and 122 (11 per cent) in 1999.

During the 1980s alcohol deaths had been relatively stable, at roughly 600 per year, but this increased rapidly during the 1990s and early 2000s, to reach around 1,500 per year in the mid-2000s.

In 2006 drink related deaths peaked at 1,546 in 2006, with the trend appearing to be 'relatively downward' after that, falling to a recent low of 1,080 in 2012.

However rises in three of the past four years, as well as the larger increase in 2016, suggest a change in that.

Sales figures show that in 2016 17 per cent more alcohol was sold per person in Scotland than in England and Wales.

Just over a quarter (26 per cent) of Scots admit to drinking at hazardous levels - defined as over 14 units a week - the 2016 Scottish Health Survey found, with 35 per cent of men and 17 per cent of women consuming this amount of alcohol.

Alcohol misuse results in about 670 hospital admissions and 24 deaths a week in Scotland, with the Scottish Government saying death rates are almost 1.5 times higher now than they were in the early 1980s.

And it estimated that alcohol misuse costs Scotland some £3.6 billion a year - the equivalent of £900 for every adult.

Other data showed alcohol is associated with 33 per cent of all major trauma cases, while the 2014-16 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey said that in more than half (54 per cent) of cases of violent crime, the victim said the offender was under the influence

In the previous 10 years, half of those accused of murder were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs at the time of the killing, the same survey found.