Pricing policies for SAFER European Region and Americas

Targets to reduce alcohol consumption are included in the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDsthe Prevention and Control of NCDs, the NCDs Global Monitoring Framework and in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. These highlight the recognition of the harm inflicted by alcohol on individuals and societies and the need for effective policies. There is robust evidence suggesting that reducing the affordability of alcohol is a cost-effective measure to reduce its consumption and harms, as well as to tackle broader health inequalities. This is also highlighted in the letter R of the WHO SAFER initiative.

This webinar aimed to present not only some of the evidence supporting alcohol pricing policies, but also to showcase the work done by WHO in the PAHO Region and success stories from some countries. Finally, the event offered an opportunity for discussion with Member States and civil societies about how to build support for pricing policies from policy makers and the public.

Pricing policies for SAFER European Region and Americas


Call for Minimum Unit Price (MUP) review

During AWARH, SHAAP & AFS urged the Scottish Government for an increase in MUP in an effort to save more lives from alcohol-related harm. Their call was supported by 28 national and global organisations. MUP was first introduced in Scotland in 2018 and in the two years following its implementation there was a reduction in alcohol consumption and decrease in hospital admissions from alcohol-related liver conditions. Alcohol-specific deaths in Scotland also decreased by 10% in 2019. Unfortunately, however, the pandemic changed drinking patterns within the population and alcohol-related deaths rose by a devastating 17% in 2020.

SHAAP & AFS are calling for a rise of MUP from the current price of 50p to 65p. The original modelling of MUP predicted that a price of 60p per unit could save twice as many lives and hospital admissions, while 70p could triple the effect. 

Alison Douglas (AFS, Chief executive) said: “We’ve seen that minimum unit pricing can have a positive effect. Unfortunately, inflation means we’re not seeing the full benefits of this life-saving policy. We need to off-set both the effects of inflation and of the pandemic, and adjust the minimum unit price to a level that will save more lives and prevent a new generation from developing an unhealthy relationship with alcohol”.

Dr Alastair MacGilchrist (SHAAP, Chair) said: “The Scottish Government committed to review the price 2 years after [its] introduction. While this has understandably been delayed due to the pandemic, we cannot wait any longer. This support from a wide range of organisations shows that experts in public health and beyond believe increasing the MUP is the right thing to do. By taking action the Scottish Government can reduce the harm and pain caused by alcohol [...] as well as save many more lives”.

SHAAP and Alcohol Focus Scotland call for MUP Review

Call for Minimum Unit Price (MUP) review