Minimum alcohol pricing gets the go-head in Scotland

15 November, 2017, 14:37 | Author: Regina Silva
  • Legal win lets Scotland be first country with minimum unit pricing for alcohol

In a unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court said: "Minimum pricing is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim".

After a five-year legal battle against the plans led by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), the court has ruled that minimum pricing is legal under European Union law on health grounds.

It clears the way for Holyrood to bring in the policy more than five years after first passing legislation specifying a minimum price per unit of 50p, meaning a bottle of spirits would cost at least £14, and a bottle of wine around £4.50.

Alcohol-related deaths in Scotland have risen 10 percent since 2015, and the government says Scotland's troubled relationship with alcohol is significantly worse than the rest of the United Kingdom, with 17 percent more alcohol sold per adult in Scotland than in England and Wales in 2016.

Following a five-year legal battle, the SWA has accepted the minimum unit pricing ruling.

"This is a historic and far-reaching judgement and a landmark moment in our ambition to turn around Scotland's troubled relationship with alcohol", she said.

"In a ruling of global significance, the UK Supreme Court has unanimously backed our pioneering and life-saving alcohol pricing policy".

Research into the impact of minimum unit pricing was carried out by the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group at the University of Sheffield, with director Professor Petra Meier saying this had shown the minimum unit pricing will "r educe alcohol-related health problems in Scotland by targeting the cheap, high-strength alcohol consumed by the heaviest and highest-risk drinkers".

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She said the Scottish Government would now proceed with plans to bring in minimum unit pricing "as quickly as possible", with the Health Secretary adding she would make a statement to Holyrood setting out the next steps, including a time table for implementation.

The Scottish Government argues the policy is needed as nearly a fifth more alcohol is sold per adult in Scotland than in England and Wales, while alcohol-related deaths have increased by 10 per cent over the past year.

The Scottish Licensed trade Association, which represents pubs and clubs, also welcomed the policy, with chief executive Paul Waterson stating: " Cheap priced alcohol has turned Scotland into a nation of stay-at-home drinkers".

"As part of a package of measures, Minimum Unit Pricing will help to address this".

The SWA said it accepts the court's decision and will continue to work with the government and the voluntary sector to promote responsible drinking and tackle alcohol-related harm.

'This is vital in order that the jobs and investment the industry provides in Scotland are not damaged.

European wine and spirits producers have lost their long-running legal challenge against minimum alcohol pricing in Scotland after the UK's Supreme Court ruled that the policy should be allowed to stand.

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