Scotland

Alcohol sales in Scotland increase

Empty bottles
Image caption Alcohol sales in Scotland still remain higher than in England and Wales

Alcohol sales in Scotland increased last year, according to the latest figures.

An NHS report said the equivalent of 41 bottles of vodka or 114 bottles of wine per adult were sold in 2014.

The Scottish government said the figures reinforced the need for minimum unit pricing.

NHS Scotland warned that increased consumption would result in higher levels of alcohol-related illness and deaths.

The figures are in contrast to a trend for declining alcohol sales seen in recent years.

'Irresponsible promotions'

They showed most of the alcohol - 72% - was bought through supermarkets or off-licences, rather than in pubs and clubs - the highest market share since recording began in 1994.

Scots continue to drink almost a fifth more than in England and Wales.

The statistics also highlighted that for the first time since 2007, the average price per unit in the off-trade has not increased and remains at 52p.

However, more than half of alcohol sold in off-trade costs below 50p per unit - the initial level proposed for minimum unit pricing.

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt said: "It's concerning that the decline in consumption seen in recent years now appears to have stalled, especially after figures published last week showed alcohol-related deaths have increased for the second year running.

"That is why we remain absolutely committed to tackling Scotland's difficult relationship with alcohol head on. In particular championing the introduction of minimum unit pricing.

"We recognise that no single measure will help change our relationship with alcohol."

She added: "Our Alcohol Framework has more than 40 measures to reduce alcohol-related harm, such as the multi-buy discount ban, increased investment in alcohol treatment and care services, increased delivery of Alcohol Brief Interventions, legislation to ban irresponsible promotions, and introduction of a lower drink drive limit.

"The Framework has had a positive impact so far, but while an average of around 22 people a week still die because of alcohol, there can be no room for complacency."

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