Almost half of Scots are in favour of the minimum unit pricing (MUP) of alcohol, a new survey suggests.
Analysis by Public Health Scotland of the 2019 Scottish social attitudes survey found 49.8% of the 1,022 people asked supported the measure, compared to 27.6% who did not.
Coming into effect in 2018, the measure meant each unit of alcohol must cost at least 50p in a bid to raise the price of high-strength drinks to tackle alcoholism north of the border.
Another study released in June showed alcohol sales had dropped by 5% since the implementation of the policy.
Dr Karl Ferguson, the public health intelligence adviser at Public Health Scotland, said: “These findings from the Scottish social attitudes survey show the public is generally more in favour of MUP than against, and that attitudes appear to have grown more favourable over the timeframe during which the policy was implemented.”
Public perception of the legislation has changed from 2015 when 41.3% of 1,288 people were in favour and 33.4% opposed, the figures show.
A report published alongside the findings suggested the shift in public attitude could be to do with a deeper understanding of what the policy means for individuals, or perceived negative effects that did not come to fruition.
Dr Ferguson added: “A related possible explanation is that some concerns the public may have held prior to implementation have not been observed.
“For example, MUP did not increase prices across the board in the off- and on- trades, as it only directly influences the pricing of a minority of off-trade products.
“This study is one of a number in the ongoing evaluation of MUP which develops our understanding of the wider impact of the policy’s implementation.”
Public health minister Joe FitzPatrick welcomed the findings.
He said: “This latest report showing increasing public support for MUP is very encouraging.
“We know that it will take longer for the impact of reduced consumption to feed through into health-related statistics but I am more convinced than ever that MUP is one of the main drivers in reducing alcohol harms.”
Mr FitzPatrick also claimed the UK Government’s Internal Market Bill, which has been opposed by the Scottish Government, could undermine MUP and other public health legislation.