The research shows that people in Scotland consume, on average, about two more pints of beer a week than their peers in the rest of Britain – or two 17.5cl glasses of wine. NHS Health Scotland warns that the gap is continuing to widen.
It also reports that the average price of alcohol is £1.31 per unit in bars, pubs, clubs, restaurants and hotels which account for 32% of all drink sold, but only 43p per unit in the off-trade, which accounts for 68% of sales.
Researchers found that in the off-trade overall, 16% of drinks are sold at less than 30p per unit of alcohol, 51% at below 40p, and 77% below 50p.
Dr Laurence Gruer, director of public health science at NHS Health Scotland, said: “We know there are strong links between lower price and increased consumption – and between increased consumption and more alcohol-related problems of all sorts.
“In recent years, alcohol from off-sales has become relatively cheaper, encouraging many more people to drink harmful amounts. For example, at 20p per unit, just £4.40 will buy enough cider to exceed the maximum recommended weekly amount for a man or £3 for a woman.
“These findings underline the need for action on cheap off-sales alcohol in Scotland. It’s by no means the only action needed, but the research shows clearly that nothing else is as effective as raising the price of alcohol.”