The latest data on UK alcohol sales has been released by NHS Scotland, showing consumption has not increased over the past year. This follows small increases in consumption in 2014 and 2015 which had ended a downward overall trend from around 2005.
The report states:
After increasing over the 1990s and early 2000s, the volume of pure alcohol sold per adult in Scotland stabilised between 2005 and 2009, and then declined until 2013. This was followed by a two-year increase which has not continued in 2016, with per-adult sales returning to a similar level as in 2013.
Falls in consumption across the UK have however been driven by declining consumption amongst younger people, but concerns exist over rising rates amongst older adults. The MESAS report also highlights that adults in Scotland continue to consume around 17% more than those in England and Wales, made up by higher off-trade sales. The amount of alcohol sold in Scotland equates to 20.2 units of alcohol per adult each week.
Alcohol-related deaths in Scotland are around 54% higher in Scotland despite a period of falling rates from 2003-2012, whilst levels in England and Wales have remained flatter. See here for a set of graphs and summary analysis on Twitter of the latest figures from Colin Angus.
A BBC news report quoted the Scottish Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell who said:
"This report shows that, whilst some progress has been made in tackling alcohol misuse, we need to do more.Over the last few years, more than half of alcohol sold in supermarkets and off-licences was sold at less than 50p per unit and enough alcohol was sold in the off-trade alone to exceed the weekly drinking guideline by a considerable amount. That is why we need minimum unit pricing, which will largely impact on the off-trade and will increase the price of the cheap, high-strength alcohol."
A final decision on Scotland's long running legal battle to implement Minimum Pricing - first passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2012 - is expected within months.