Overall alcohol consumption in Scotland fell to a 26-year low during 2020, according to a comprehensive report published by Public Health Scotland.
The annual Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland’s Alcohol Strategy (MESAS) report brings together data on alcohol consumption, price and related harms into a single publication.
It shows that total alcohol sales fell 5% on the previous year, to the lowest level recorded since 1994.
In addition to the evidence from 2020 – the year of the pandemic – the MESAS report also details a 10% year-on-year reduction in the number of deaths wholly caused by alcohol in 2019.
Last year, COVID-19 restrictions severely limited alcohol sales from premises such as pubs, clubs, and restaurants. Nine in every ten units of alcohol sold in Scotland in 2020 were sold via off-trade outlets including supermarkets and other off-licences – an increase from seven in every ten units in 2019.
Kenneth Gibson MSP commented:
“We have already seen a steady drop in alcohol sales since the introduction of the SNP Government’s world-leading Minimum Unit Pricing policy in 2018.
“It will take longer for the full impact of reduced consumption to feed through into health related figures, but progress is clearly being made thanks to this lifesaving policy.
“Although this is the largest recorded year-on-year reduction in alcohol sales – and also the narrowest recorded gap between sales north and south of the border – it is important to bear in mind that the average number of units drunk during this period was still nearly 30% per cent more than the UK Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines of drinking no more than 14 units a week.
“In addition to these 2020 figures, the report also details a 10% reduction in the number of deaths caused wholly by alcohol in 2019. While we are on the right trajectory, this still equates tragically to nearly 20 preventable deaths every week across Scotland.
“The SNP Government and partners will continue to work on addressing the underlying causes that drive health inequalities and doing more to address harms from alcohol, including consulting on potential restrictions to alcohol advertising and promotion.”