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We invite comments on the proposed minimum price of 50 pence per unit which is set out in the draft Scottish Statutory Instrument at Annex A.

We invite comments on the proposed minimum price of 50 pence per unit which is set out in the draft Scottish Statutory Instrument at Annex A .
The British Medical Association (BMA) is a politically neutral professional association and independent trade union, representing doctors and medical students from all branches of medicine across the UK and supporting them to deliver the highest standards of patient care. The BMA has a total membership of around 168,000 representing around two-thirds of all practising doctors in the UK. In Scotland, the BMA represents around 16,000 members. We welcome the opportunity to respond to this consultation on setting a minimum price per unit of alcohol at the Scottish Government’s preferred price of 50p per unit. Minimum unit pricing is intended to target excessive consumption of cheaper, high alcohol content drinks which cause the most harm to health and which are favoured by hazardous and harmful drinkers. There is a strong and proven link between alcohol price and consumption, with controls on price identified as one of the most effective measures that governments can take to reduce alcohol harms. The case that has been made to implement minimum unit pricing in Scotland has been based upon a minimum unit price of 50p since 2012. This is well understood by the public and was the level at which the Scottish Parliament gave its support to the legislation introducing the policy. The BMA still supports the introduction of minimum unit pricing at this level. Economic modelling conducted by the University of Sheffield estimated that an initial minimum price of 50p per unit, as proposed by the Scottish Government, would save 58 lives in its first year after implementation, rising to 392 lives per year after 10 years of implementation. This modelling also showed that those who drink to excess would be affected more than those who drink modestly. However, while a 50p per unit minimum price was rightly seen as a strong response to alcohol harms in Scotland in 2012 when the decision to set a minimum price at this level was first announced, several years have now passed and changes to average household incomes and spending power will have occurred. It is important to establish what impact such changes in income have had to date and are likely to have in the future in relation to the affordability of alcohol products with a minimum unit price of 50p. Consideration should be given to setting out the circumstances in which the minimum price per unit will change over time to ensure that it achieves the impact that was intended. This would ensure that the effectiveness of minimum unit pricing is not eroded by wider economic trends.

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BMA Scotland