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Immediate impact of minimum unit pricing on alcohol purchases in Scotland: controlled interrupted time series analysis for 2015-18

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Amy O'DonnellORCiD, Professor Peter Anderson, Professor Eileen KanerORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Objective: To assess the impact of the introduction of minimum unit pricing in Scotland on household alcohol purchases.Design: Controlled interrupted time series analysis Setting: Purchase data from Kantar Worldpanel’s household shopping panel for 2015-18. Participants: 5,325 Scottish households, with 54,807 English households as controls, including 10,040 households in North England to assess potential cross-border effects.Interventions: Introduction of a minimum price of 50 pence per UK unit (6.25 pence per gram) for the sale of alcohol in Scotland on 1st May 2018. Main outcome measures: 1) Price per gram of alcohol; 2) Number of grams of alcohol purchased from off-licenses by households; 3) Weekly household expenditure on alcohol.Results: The introduction of minimum unit pricing in Scotland was associated with: an increase in purchase price of 0.64 pence per gram of alcohol (95% CI 0.54 to 0.75); a reduction in weekly purchases of 9.5 grams of alcohol pre adult per household (95% CI=5.1 to 13.9); and a non-significant increase in weekly expenditure on alcohol per household of 61 pence (95% CI=-5 to 127). The increase in purchase price was higher in lower income households and in households that purchased the largest amount of alcohol. The reduction in purchased grams of alcohol was greater in lower income households and only occurred in the top fifth of households by income that purchased the greatest amount of alcohol, where the reduction was 15 grams of alcohol per week (95% CI 6 to 24). Changes in weekly expenditure were not systematically related to household income but increased with increasing household purchases. Conclusions: The introduction of minimum unit pricing has been successful in reducing the amount of alcohol purchased by households in Scotland. It was a targeted action in that reductions of purchased alcohol only occurred in the households that bought the most alcohol.

Publication metadata

Author(s): O'Donnell A, Anderson P, Jané-Llopis E, Manthey J, Kaner E, Rehm J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Medical Journal

Year: 2019

Volume: 366

Online publication date: 25/09/2019

Acceptance date: 03/08/2019

Date deposited: 07/08/2019

ISSN (print): 1759-2151

ISSN (electronic): 1756-1833

Publisher: BMJ


DOI: 10.1136/bmj.l5274


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