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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 Highland Alcohol and Drugs Partnership (HADP) welcome the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) and also the opportunity to comment. We are pleased that the UK Supreme Court has confirmed that the legislation which allows for the introduction of MUP is lawful. Highland is a large land mass, approximately the size of Belgium, made up of many small communities, villages, small towns and towns. There are pockets of known deprivation but we know across Highland there are people living in deprived circumstances throughout the region. Highland has a problematic relationship with alcohol which is evidenced by our local data. In 2015 there were 61 deaths from alcohol and 27% of the population exceeded 14 units per week which is the current low risk guidance (Scottish Health Survey). Over time alcohol has become more accessible, affordable and available and the HADP sees MUP as an important component in tackling the health and social problems arsing from alcohol consumption. We know from sales data that the patterns of where people buy alcohol has changed from on sales premises to off sales premises such as supermarkets for home consumption. On sales trade now accounts for 27% and off sales trade accounts for 73%. Furthermore our local data shows that 94% of the population live within a 10 minute drive time of a license premise and 66% within a 10 minute walk time of a license premise (HADP 2013). It is the HADP view that MUP is one of a number of actions that will help improve the health and wellbeing of the population and also reduce harm arising from problematic drinking. The population most affected will be those buying cheap alcohol who are predominately those with harmful drinking behaviours. We welcome this approach because it will have an impact in areas of deprivation as well as where people are living in deprived circumstances. To maximise the impact of MUP we urge the Scottish Government to review the 50p minimum unit price so that it stays proportionate to reflect changes in inflation and the economy. We suggest a review within two years of implementation with a commitment to an on-going review process. We welcome the independent evaluation that is to be undertaken by NHS Health Scotland under the Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland’s Alcohol Strategy work programme. We understand that there is a focus on rural and remote issues and we seek assurances that the outcomes of the evaluation studies should be carefully monitored through this particular lens. Finally we recognise the challenge that some people may have in reducing their alcohol intake when such intake becomes unaffordable. In Highland our services are already stretched because of the geography and providing services in remote locations and we need to think ahead to make sure there is sufficient capacity and service flexibility for those who may urgently request support. References Scottish Health Survey HADP Alcohol Overprovision statement 2013

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Elisabeth Smart

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Highland Alcohol and Drugs Partnership AND Highland Public Health Directorate