Scots want minimum price of 45p/unit

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Minimum price, Scotland, Scottish national party, Scottish government

Supermarket booze: is 45p the magic figure?
Supermarket booze: is 45p the magic figure?
The Scottish Government has proposed setting a minimum price of 45p per unit, claiming it will mean 50 fewer deaths in the first year.

The Scottish Government has proposed setting a minimum price of 45p per unit.

It will be made in an amendment to the Alcohol (Scotland) Bill, which is about to start the second stage of its Parliamentary process.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the move would mean, in the first year:

* 50 fewer deaths from alcohol-related harm

* 1,200 fewer hospital admissions

* A £5.5 million reduction in health care costs

* 22,900 fewer days absence from work

After 10 years, benefits would increase to:

* 225 fewer deaths from alcohol-related harm annually

* 4,200 fewer hospital admissions annually

* An £83 million reduction in health care costs over the 10 year period

However, the plan could face difficulties as opposition parties have said they will oppose the amendment.

Sturgeon said: "I believe it's crucial that we reintroduce realistic alcohol pricing.

"It cannot be right that a man can exceed his weekly recommended alcohol limit for less than £3.50.

"That's why we're taking decisive action, including proposals to introduce a minimum price per unit, which would bring these pocket money prices to an end.

"Getting the price right is vital for minimum pricing to work - too low and it will simply be ineffective. After careful consideration, we believe that 45p per unit is the right price.

"Our proposals have already won backing from respected health professionals at home and abroad and I hope, for the sake of our nation's health, they will also win the backing of the Scottish Parliament."

Dr Harry Burns, Scotland's chief medical officer, said: "Scotland has an unenviable reputation when it comes to alcohol. We are, sadly, world-class when it comes to damaging our health through heavy drinking.

"But that can change. Scotland led the way in the UK when it came to banning smoking in public places and I believe we must also lead the way in introducing a minimum price for alcohol.

"Minimum pricing, as part of a package of wider measures, can help us to redress the balance when it comes to our unhealthy relationship with alcohol."

But Wine and Spirit Trade Association spokesman Gavin Partington said: "Setting a minimum price at 45p doesn't alter the fact that minimum pricing is wrong in principle. It won't tackle alcohol misuse but will punish families on low incomes and pensioners.

"Surely Ministers cannot believe that making a hazardous drinker pay an extra £1.08 per week is going to solve the problem.

"It's time the Scottish Government stopped pursuing an approach already rejected by Parliament and started working with other politicians and stakeholders on a range of policies to address the root causes of alcohol misuse."

Related topics: Legislation

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