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Home > Minimum Unit Pricing in Scotland: a qualitative study of children and young people’s own drinking and related behaviour.

Iconic Consulting. (2020) Minimum Unit Pricing in Scotland: a qualitative study of children and young people’s own drinking and related behaviour. Edinburgh: Iconic Consulting.

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1. This report presents findings from a qualitative study commissioned by NHS Health Scotland to understand the impact of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) on children and young people’s own drinking and related behaviour. As a qualitative study the aim was to capture lived experience of young people already drinking alcohol rather than generating findings that are generalisable to children and young people in Scotland. The study is part of an extensive research programme led by NHS Health Scotland to evaluate the implementation and impact of MUP. The Children and Young People (MUP) Evaluation Advisory Group provided advice and support throughout the study.

2. The Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012 was implemented in May 2018 which made it illegal to sell a unit of alcohol in licensed premises in Scotland for less than 50p. Alcoholic drinks sold in pubs, clubs and restaurants were largely unaffected as the price per unit of alcohol already exceeded 50p. Approximately half of off-trade alcohol sales in supermarkets and off-licences in Scotland was sold below 50p per unit in 2017, the last full year before the introduction of MUP (NHS Health Scotland, 2019a). Drinks previously sold close to the 50p per unit price are likely to have experienced relatively small increases whereas drinks, such as strong white ciders and non-branded spirits, that previously sold well below this level will have had substantial price increases. The introduction of MUP was part of the Scottish Government’s strategy to reduce alcohol-related harm in Scotland.

3. The 2012 Act included a clause – often referred to as the sunset clause – which stipulated that the legislation will cease before the end of the sixth year of its implementation unless the Scottish Parliament makes provision for it to continue. To inform this decision the legislation requires Ministers to report to Parliament on the impact of the Act on alcohol producers and licence holders, specific groups, and the five licensing objectives set out in the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005. Protecting children and young persons from harm is one of the licensing objectives and this study aimed to provide an insight into the lived experience of children and young people’s own drinking and related behaviour following the introduction of MUP legislation. 4 NHS Health Scotland highlighted a range of evidence that led to the commissioning of this study including young people who consume a hazardous or harmful amount of alcohol showing a preference towards cheaper alcohol products (Alcohol Concern and Balance North East, 2012).

5. The research questions were:
• Have children and young people observed any changes in product availability or price recently?
• Has MUP influenced children and young people’s consumption and acquisition decisions?
• What are children and young people’s strategies with dealing with any price increases observed in their favoured drink?
• Is there evidence that harms from children and young people’s own consumption have changed following MUP?
• What factors other than the introduction of MUP might be influencing children and young people’s alcohol use?


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