UK Supreme Court rejects challenge to minimum alcohol pricing in Scotland

Research from the University of Sheffield has been used as key evidence in the UK Supreme Court’s decision to back the Scottish
Government’s proposal for the
implementation of a Minimum Unit Price for the retail sale of alcoholic beverages.

Findings from the University of Sheffield’s Alcohol Research Group (SARG) reveal that the introduction of a 50p minimum unit price for alcohol in Scotland could prevent 120 alcohol-
related premature deaths and see 2000 fewer hospital
admissions per year.

Whisky shots

The estimates of policy impact come from the Sheffield Alcohol Policy Model (SAPM) – a mathematical model created by ACSE’s Dr Robin Purshouse, together with colleagues in the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR). The model brings together methods from systems engineering, econometrics, epidemiology and health economics in a multi-criteria decision analytic framework.

Dr Robin Purshouse said: “The Sheffield Alcohol Policy Model was created to help policy makers, such as the Scottish Government and the Supreme Court, understand the impact of different policy options, and so guide the development of cost-effective policies that will hopefully save lives in the future.

The model estimated the effects of minimum pricing on different groups in society, such as those drinking more than the recommended daily limits of alcohol, and people on low incomes. These estimates were used directly by the UK Supreme Court to help inform its judgment – for example, the model indicated that to achieve the targeted health benefits to people drinking at harmful levels, a very substantial alcohol tax rise (36%) would be needed to achieve the same effect as a 50p Minimum Unit Price.

Dr Robin Purshouse and colleagues in ScHARR are now collaborating on a new modelling project to estimate the long-term impacts of alcohol policies in both England and the US. For more information, visit the project website:

For more information about the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group, visit their website at