Scotland set to lead world by setting minimum alcohol price

Beer cans


Alcohol misuse results in about 670 hospital admissions and 24 deaths a week - with the Scottish Government saying death rates are nearly 1.5 times higher now than they were in the early 1980s.

"Although the majority of Scots enjoy alcohol responsibly, we are concerned about the availability of strong, cheap alcohol and its correlation with harmful drinking that causes misery across Scotland".

But Scotland will be the first nation to introduce minimum unit pricing.

The legal arguments aside, the premise for Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) is flawed - based as it is on an untested forecast model that believes that the heaviest drinkers are very sensitive to price increases.

"Alcohol is 60 percent more affordable in the United Kingdom than it was in 1980 and alcohol misuse costs Scotland £3.6 billion each year [US$4.73billion] - £900 for every adult [US$1184]".

Scotland is expected to become the first country in the world to set a minimum price for alcohol after the Supreme Court rejected a last-ditch appeal against the move.

Drinks company C&C, who produce Tennent's Lager and Magners Cider, hailed the "landmark decision".

She added that she would make a statement to the Scottish Parliament shortly setting out the Government's next steps, which will include a more precise timetable.

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Rooney Anand, the chief executive of brewers Greene King, urged the UK Government to consider following Scotland's lead, saying there were "clear" health benefits.

Speaking for the Church of Scotland, the Rev Dr Richard Frazer, convener of the Kirk's Church and Society council said: "We see all too often the devastating impact that excessive use of alcohol can have on the lives of individuals and their loved ones".

The Scotch Whisky Association took its case against MUP to the UK's highest court after members of Scottish Parliament approved the legislation in 2012.

"In addition it will adversely affect legitimate consumers, especially those on modest incomes that are typically lower per capita consumers of alcohol than those on higher incomes".

It comes after figures showed there were 1,265 alcohol related deaths in Scotland in 2016 - a rise of 10 per cent on the previous year. The aim is to hit consumption of strong alcohol being drunk in homes.

But Chris Snowdon, the head of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said that while politicians and doctors would not be affected by minimum pricing, it would "clobber" poorer drinkers.

'We regret, but respect, the Supreme Court decision and hope to count on the Scottish government to ensure a smooth implementation of this legislation, in a way that would as much as possible limit market distortion and preserve a level-playing field.' said Jean-Marie Barillère, president of CEEV.

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