Scotland backs minimum alcohol pricing

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Proposals backed: minimum unit pricing given the go ahead in Scotland
Proposals backed: minimum unit pricing given the go ahead in Scotland

Related tags Minimum unit pricing Scotland

Minimum alcohol pricing plans have been backed by the Scottish courts, to the dismay of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), which slammed the move.

Alcohol in Scotland may now be priced at 50p per unit, as proposed by MSPs in 2012, which could result in a minimum price of £14 for a bottle of spirits.

Changes to rules were delayed when the Scotch whisky industry challenged the move, arguing the plans breached European law.

The ruling could still be appealed by the drinks industry in the UK Supreme Court.

Alcohol misuse in Scotland

Scotland’s drinks industry claims the ruling will restrict trade and argues there are more effective ways to deal with alcohol misuse in the country.

ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls, said the introduction of minimum unit pricing must be evidence-based and provide certainty it will deliver on addressing alcohol-related harms.

She added: “The Scottish government has introduced minimum unit pricing without providing conclusive evidence that the policy will lead to a reduction in consumption of alcohol and a reduction in alcohol-related harms, which ultimately is its aim.”

Pubs and bars in Scotland will now face an increase in costs without any reassurance that the additional financial burden will be effective in addressing the government’s objectives, Nicholls continued.

‘Falling levels of alcohol consumption’

“The ALMR has repeatedly pointed to falling levels of alcohol consumption and a shift in drinking habits, which favours unsupervised drinking of off-trade alcohol that can be bought very cheaply,” she said.

“This year we have seen beer sales in the off-trade overtake beer sales in the on-trade, and yet pubs and bars will still be forced to bear this indiscrimination of a financial burden and additional, unnecessary level of bureaucracy.”

However, minister for public health Aileen Campbell described the ruling as a “landmark one”, which should signal the end of any legal processes against minimum unit pricing in Scotland.

She said: “This policy was passed by the Scottish parliament unopposed more than four years ago. In that time, the democratic will of our national parliament has been thwarted by this ongoing legal challenge, while many people in Scotland have continued to die from the effects of alcohol misuse.”

Related topics Spirits & Cocktails Legislation

Related news

Show more