Minimum unit pricing reduces alcohol-related harm to health 

A comprehensive independent evaluation of the impact of minimum unit pricing (MUP) for alcohol in Scotland was published today 

It found that MUP has had a positive impact on health outcomes, reducing deaths directly caused by alcohol consumption by an estimated 13.4% and hospital admissions by 4.1%. 

Alcohol Action Ireland welcomes the final report from Public Health Scotland, which adds to evidence from other jurisdictions that MUP is an important measure in reducing alcohol harm. 

MUP was introduced in Scotland in May 2018 and led to a 3% reduction in alcohol sales by volume.  

Commenting on the evaluation, Dr Sheila Gilheany, CEO of Alcohol Action Ireland, said:  “AAI welcomes this compelling evidence from Scotland. Ireland introduced MUP in January 2022 and we look forward to seeing improved health outcomes here also. Alcohol causes 4 deaths every day in Ireland. In the face of such appalling loss and devastation for families and communities it is vital for government to take the comprehensive steps needed to reduce this harm.” 

The report also points to the need for better services for those with alcohol dependency problems noting that MUP alone is not enough to address the specific and complex needs of those with alcohol dependence.  

The World Health Organization has consistently pointed to the need for controls on pricing, marketing and availability of alcohol. Last week the [https://.%20%20%20%20https//]European Association for the Study of the Liver called for comprehensive action in this area to address the rising levels of liver disease in Europe and for the alcohol industry to pay for the harm caused by its products. 

Sadly, Ireland has experienced a massive increase in alcohol related liver problems with over 40,000 hospital bed days now needed annually. 

Drivers for the high level of alcohol use in Ireland include the saturation levels of marketing to which we are exposed. Through the Public Health Alcohol Act, which was passed by an overwhelming majority in 2018, Ireland is making significant progress in recent years to reduce the level of advertising with restrictions in some areas including areas close to youth-oriented facilities and on the field of play during sporting events.

 “There is no single measure which can address all the issues around alcohol. That’s why we need the Public Health Alcohol Act to be implemented in full to protect everyone, including young people, who are constantly exposed to harmful marketing practices. We know that more than 1 in 3 Irish teenagers aged 15 to 16 have begun binge drinking so we need to use all of the measures at our disposal,” Dr Gilheany said. 

“However, there are other important areas of the Act which need to be implemented swiftly including the broadcast watershed for alcohol advertising and controls on the content of ads. There is also a need to address the cynical use of zero alcohol product marketing using shared branding with alcohol master brands in areas restricted for alcohol advertising.”  

“We welcome the determined step taken recently by Minister Stephen Donnelly in relation to health information labelling of alcohol products, another important measure within the Act, but we are highly concerned about proposals from Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, to increase availability of alcohol through longer licensing hours and more venues for the sale of alcohol.  Such steps will only act to negate the progress being made by the Department of Health and we call on the government to look again at this policy incoherence. It is time to put public interest above vested interest when considering alcohol issues,” Dr Gilheany added. 



For media enquiries and interview requests, please contact: 

Dr Sheila Gilheany 

 +353 (0) 86-2600903 


Jennifer Hough 

083 135 9860 

Other useful resources: Media guide re non-stigmatising language