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The Scottish Government’s Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) policy for alcohol sales has saved an estimated 156 deaths each year since it was rolled out.

That’s according to a Public Health Scotland and University of Glasgow study, which found a 13.4% reduction in deaths, and a 4.1% reduction in hospital admissions wholly down to alcohol consumption in the first two and a half years after MUP was introduced in May 2018. The report also concludes the policy had reduced deaths and hospital admissions where alcohol consumption may have played a part.

A previous study from NHS Health Scotland estimated that alcohol sales dropped by 3.6% in the first year after MUP’s introduction.

Researchers say they are confident there is a link between the introduction of MUP and the reduction in alcohol health harms. They also noted there had been significant reductions in deaths in areas of deprivation, suggesting MUP has helped reduce inequalities in alcohol-attributable deaths in Scotland.

Public Health Minister Maree Todd welcomed the latest findings: “We’re determined to do all we can to reduce alcohol-related harm which is one of the most pressing public health challenges that we face in Scotland.

“Minimum Unit Pricing continues to achieve its aim – cutting overall sales, particularly cheap high-strength alcohol, which is often drunk by people drinking at harmful levels.

“It’s also encouraging to see that the research has highlighted that the policy is having an effect in Scotland’s most deprived areas – which experience higher death rates and levels of harms from problem alcohol.”