The fight to increase Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) on alcohol

More than 80 organisations are supporting the increase of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) on alcohol from 50p to 65p in Scotland. At Pancreatic Cancer Action, we are proud to be one of them on the frontline, fighting to save lives.

MUP sets a baseline price at which a unit of alcohol can be sold, in Scotland, this is currently 50p. This means that a unit of alcohol cannot be legally sold at a price lower than that.

Pancreatic Cancer Action has joined the campaign to have the MUP increased to 65p per unit in an effort to reduce the number of pancreatic cancer cases caused by alcohol.

Alcohol is a known carcinogen, a substance that is capable of causing cancer in living tissue. Research has shown a direct link between heavy alcohol use and pancreatic cancer. However, there appears to be an even greater link between alcohol consumption and pancreatitis. A condition which is also a risk factor for pancreatic cancer.

Research has also shown that the volume of alcohol consumption would need to be extreme for it to be an independent risk of pancreatic cancer.

Raising the MUP from 50p to 65p in Scotland would help prevent these extreme levels of consumption, ultimately saving lives.

Rigorous research from Public Health Scotland has found that since the introduction of MUP in 2018:

  • Deaths caused solely by alcohol have reduced by 13.4%.
  • 156 families each year have been spared the loss of a loved one.
  • Hospital admissions are down by an estimated 4.1%, reducing pressure on the NHS.

The benefits of the policy have been seen most in the most deprived communities, indicating that it has helped to reduce health inequalities.

Failure to raise MUP to 65p per unit will result in an estimated 800 more deaths, and almost 10,000 additional hospital admissions at an estimated cost of £11 million to our hospitals over the next 5 years.

The evidence speaks for itself – MUP is a critical tool in combating Scotland’s significant alcohol problem and improving public health outcomes.

While MUP has saved and improved lives, in order to sustain and enhance its effectiveness, the minimum price must be increased to 65p per unit. Failure to do so would result in more deaths and increased costs for our strained public services. Moreover, MUP should be part of a wider comprehensive alcohol strategy that includes expanding access to treatment, strengthening support for recovery, and implementing measures to reduce the availability and harmful marketing of alcohol.

Now is the time for bold action and continued commitment to safeguarding the health and wellbeing of everyone in Scotland.

“The relationship between alcohol and cancer is undeniable. Minimum unit pricing is one of the most effective ways to reduce excessive alcohol consumption, and therefore reduce the harm and risk of cancer. If we have an opportunity to take action and reduce the risk of developing Britain’s deadliest cancer, then Pancreatic Cancer Action will support it.”

Pancreatic Cancer Action Chief Executive Joe Kirwin

Pancreatic Cancer Action has joined with over 80 other organisations to write to the Scottish Parliament Health, Social Care and Sport Committee to call on them to support raising the MUP and join the campaign to save lives.