Minimum Unit Pricing

Aim of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP)

To reduce the consumption of alcohol, particularly among hazardous and harmful drinkers, leading to reduction in alcohol-related harm.

SHAAP was the first organisation to call for MUP, when we published the report, ‘Price, Policy and Public Health’ in 2007.

Read BMJ editorial 'Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol in Scotland' by John D Mooney & Eric Carlin, published 25th September 2019.

What does MUP do?

MUP sets a minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol below which no alcohol in Scotland may be sold.

1 unit = 10mls/8g of alcohol


ITEM – volume + strength


Whisky, 70cl, 40% abv


Vodka 70cl, 37.5% abv


Lager, 400ml, 4% abv


Wine, 75cl, 12.5% abv


Cider, 1L, 5% abv


Strong (‘white’) cider, 3L, 7.5% abv



Benefits of minimum pricing


  1. According to Sheffield University Modelling (2015), it will save lives - in the first year alone:
    • 60 fewer alcohol-related deaths,
    • 1,600 hospital admissions
    • 3,500 crimes.* (figures from University of Sheffield modelling)
  2. MUP targets the cheapest, strongest drinks like white cider, own-brand spirits and super-strength lager. These are bought mostly by the heaviest drinkers, so it will reduce harm in this group where premature deaths and hospitalisations are highest. Moderate drinkers won’t be affected.
  3. MUP only affects shops and supermarkets where alcohol is cheapest: drinks in pubs and restaurants already cost more than 50p per unit.
  4. MUP is widely supported by the public, politicians, doctors, police, homelessness services, children's charities and parts of the licensed trade.
  5. MUP is legal - passed in the Scottish Parliament in May 2012, tested in Europe, approved by the Scottish courts twice and finally by the UK Supreme Court in November 2017.
  6. MUP will save money - £1bn to the public purse over 10 years.


Minimum Unit Pricing so far

Evaluation so far shows that by reducing alcohol consumption, MUP has delivered its overall purpose of reducing alcohol-related harm.


  • It is estimated that MUP has saved 268 lives and averted 899 hospital admissions each year, on average.
  • This is because MUP reduced alcohol consumption in Scotland by 3%, and targeted consumption by those drinking at higher levels.


MUP is reducing inequalities in alcohol harm as most of the lives saved are among the 40% of people living in Scotland’s most deprived areas.


MUP may have mitigated some of the pandemic’s negative effects, as the rise in deaths since the pandemic in Scotland was not as sharp as in England.


To learn more, please read our joint briefing with Alcohol Focus Scotland: MUP Briefing 

Minimum unit pricing (MUP) for alcohol: Evaluation findings at a glance


Minimum unit pricing (MUP) for alcohol: Evaluation findings at a glance


What next?

Minimum unit pricing for alcohol (MUP) was implemented in May 2018 at a rate of 50p per unit. The policy is subject to a sunset clause, which means it will lapse unless renewed by the Scottish Parliament by end of April 2024.


MUP remains an essential component of Scotland’s alcohol strategy to reduce our high levels of alcohol consumption and harm. However, the effect of 50p per unit has been significantly eroded by inflation since the legislation was passed in 2012.


SHAAP and AFS recommend that the MUP is uprated to at least 65p per unit, and a mechanism is introduced to automatically uprate the price in the future, to ensure alcohol does not become more affordable. This will optimise the effectiveness of MUP in saving and improving lives.