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Scots "still drinking too much as a nation", health chiefs warn

NHS Health Scotland figures released today show that 10.9 litres of pure alcohol was sold per adult in 2012, a fall of 3% per person on the previous year.

Although a drop in sales, it still equates to 21 units per adult per week in Scotland, which is 19% higher than England & Wales figures for the same period (9.2L in 2012 or 17.6 units per adult per week).

86% of the total difference in per adult sales between Scotland and England & Wales was due to higher off-trade sales in Scotland, where the volume of alcohol sold per adult through the off-trade in 2012 was twice that of on-trade sales (7.6L and 3.3L respectively). The report also found that a total of 60% of the alcohol sold in off-sales and supermarkets cost less than 50p per unit, the Scottish Government's proposed minimum price for alcohol.

Mark Robinson, public health information manager at NHS Health Scotland, welcomed the findings, attributing much of the decrease in sales to Scotland's recent ban on multi buy promotions and declining affordability as a result of the challenging economic climate. However, he warned that, "although ­positive effects are welcome, we are still drinking too much as a nation, and a large proportion of alcohol is still being sold at relatively low prices." 

The Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland's Alcohol Strategy report (MESAS) collates pure alcohol sales data derived from electronic sales records and retail outlet sampling provided by market research specialists, Nielsen and CGA Strategy, to describe trends in per adult (aged ≥16 years) alcohol sales in Scotland and England & Wales. A full analysis of the 2013 Alcohol Sales Update and its datasets can be viewed/downloaded from the NHS Scotland website.