CISUR research plays key role in Scottish Supreme Court alcohol decision

After being tied up in court challenges for the last five years, the UK Supreme Court has ruled that Scotland can set a minimum price for alcohol. CISUR research, which has demonstrated the effectiveness of minimum unit pricing in reducing alcohol-related harms¹, played a key role in bolstering the case for the policy in a country where an average of 22 people a week die from alcohol-related causes (BBC).

Tim Stockwell and Jinhui Zhao who have led CISUR's research program on minimum unit pricing for alcohol
Tim Stockwell and Jinhui Zhao, who have led CISUR's research program on minimum unit pricing for alcohol

In response to the decision, CISUR Director Tim Stockwell, who also provided expert testimony on the original Bill², was optimistic about the potential public health benefits of the decision: 

I am predicting that people will be surprised by the reductions in crime, hospital admissions and deaths, all other things being equal, because there could be crosswinds caused by the economy booming and goodness knows what else. If it is compared with [other countries] you should observe profound effects.

from The Herald, Scotland

Additional Information:

¹ CISUR-led research papers on minimum pricing of alcohol:

  1. Zhao, J, Stockwell, T. The impacts of minimum alcohol pricing on alcohol attributable morbidity in regions of British Colombia, Canada with low, medium and high mean family incomeAddiction. 2017; 112(11): 1942-1951.
  2. Stockwell T, Zhao J, Sherk A, Callaghan RC, Macdonald S, Gatley J. Assessing the impacts of Saskatchewans minimum alcohol pricing regulations on alcohol-related crime. Drug and Alcohol Review. 2017;36:492-501.
  3. Stockwell T, Zhao J, Macdonald S, Martin G. The relationship of minimum alcohol pricing on crime during the partial privatization of a Canadian government alcohol monopoly. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. 2015;64(4):628-34. 
  4. Stockwell T, Zhao J, Martin G, Macdonald S, Vallance K, Treno A, et al. Minimum alcohol prices and outlet densities in British Columbia, Canada: Estimated impacts on alcohol attributable hospitalisationsAmerican Journal of Public Health. 2013:e1-e7. 
  5. Stockwell T, Auld MC, Zhao JH, Martin G. Does minimum pricing reduce alcohol consumption? The experience of a Canadian provinceAddiction. 2012;107(5):912-20. 
  6. Stockwell T, Zhao J, Giesbrecht N, Macdonald S, Thomas G, Wettlaufer A. The raising of minimum alcohol prices in Saskatchewan, Canada: impacts on consumption and implications for public health. American Journal of Public Health. 2012;102(12):e103-10. 
  7. Zhao J, Stockwell T, Martin G, Macdonald S, Vallance K, Treno A, et al. The relationship between minimum alcohol prices, outlet densities and alcohol-attributable deaths in British Columbia, 2002–09. Addiction. 2013;108(6):1059-69.

² An excerpt detailing Tim's original expert testimony presented before the Scottish courts:

[49] In the evening session, Timothy Stockwell, professor at the University of Victoria BC, made a presentation on the effectiveness of minimum pricing in Canada.  Asking himself the question of “why introduce minimum pricing”, when across the board tax increases would reduce average consumption, Prof Stockwell said that it was known that the heaviest drinkers gravitated towards the cheapest alcohol.  Young people and high risk drinkers were especially responsive to minimum pricing.  Prof Stockwell was effusive in his praise of the proposed legislation, stating that the Bill would “without a shred of doubt” save lives, reduce healthcare costs, prevent death and injury on the roads, prevent birth defects, and reduce public violence and a range of other things. He agreed with the likely impact as modelled by Sheffield University.