Recovering alcoholic: Minimum pricing is good even ‘if only some people drink a little less’

Raising the price of alcohol in Scotland will not solve every drink-related problem, a recovering alcoholic says, but it will be worthwhile even if it helps just some people.

Darren McGarvey says the move – introduced earlier this month – will help society to stop seeing excessive drunkenness as a “harmless rite of passage”.

On 1 May Scotland became the first country in the world to set a 50 pence per unit minimum price for alcohol.

Huge impact

Writing in The Guardian, McGarvey challenged critics of the proposal who say it will only affect moderate drinkers.

“If it only leads to some people drinking a little less, the cumulative impact of a moderate reduction, both at the level of the individual and society, could be massive.”

He noted: “It won’t solve every drink-related problem, just as airbags, seatbelts and baby seats don’t save everyone from road accidents, but as part of a combination of measures, minimum pricing will play a significant part in tackling alcohol misuse.”


He stated that the policy “is about looking beyond the horizon line of our current culture of excess, to a society where getting paralytic is no longer regarded as a harmless rite of passage”.

“Minimum pricing exerts an additional drag-force over a certain type of drinker, making it that bit less easy to misuse alcohol”.

On average, 22 Scots die every week from alcohol-related causes and the change is specifically designed to target cheap drinks with a high alcohol content.

Hospital admissions down

Some strong ciders more than doubled in price when the new law came into force.

It is estimated the legislation will save 58 lives in its first year and reduce hospital admissions by 1,300.

The law has a “sunset clause” within it, meaning it can be repealed after six years if Holyrood decides it has been ineffective.

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