Former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill MP has written to the Health Secretary Humza Yousaf calling for the Scottish Government to raise Minimum Unit Pricing of alcohol from 50p per unit to 65p per unit following the publication last week of statistics which show that alcohol specific deaths are now at their highest level since 2008. The figures which show alcohol specific deaths rising by 17% to 1,190 last year, up from 1,020 in 2019 require the Scottish Government to “redouble its efforts” and take urgent action to prevent this becoming a public health crisis according to Mr MacAskill. In a statement Mr MacAskill said:
“The Scottish Government must take bold action to tackle this growing scourge of alcohol deaths in Scotland. Minimum Unit Pricing was meant to mean fewer deaths, fewer admissions to hospital and a reduction in crime. If it is to work effectively it has to be set at the right level.
“That is why I am calling on the Health Secretary to take immediate steps to implement an increase in the level of Minimum Unit Pricing from 50p per unit to 65p per unit in line with what has been called for by SHAAP (Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems) and the health and other professionals who work at the front line of tackling alcohol abuse.
“Warm words and yet another review will simply not cut it. We cannot simply wait for the evaluation of Minimum Unit Pricing by Public Health Scotland which will not report until 2023. We need urgent action and we need it now.
“The Scottish Government must do as the Republic of Ireland have done and set Minimum Unit Pricing at an appropriate level. Not acting would be a failure of leadership on the part of the Scottish Government and I urge the Health Secretary to take this vital step to save lives.”