Economy

Scotland Alcohol Pricing: Minimum Set in Public Health Move

Scotland Alcohol Pricing: Minimum Set in Public Health Move

Scotland became one of the first countries in the world to introduce minimum pricing on alcohol yesterday after years of legal wrangling and opposition from drinks companies. "The Ministry of Justice estimated that this figure would be reduced through minimum unit pricing", she says.

But the chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) Brigid Simmonds warned that minimum pricing in England should be carefully evaluated.

"Our action is bold and it is fearless, and shows once again that we are leading the way in introducing innovative solutions to public health challenges", First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said.

John Mooney, senior lecturer in public health, has commented on similarities between parts of the country and the North East, as Scotland aims to cut alcohol deaths and hospital admissions, as well as slashing crime and reducing costs to the health service.

Britain's Supreme Court a year ago backed the Scottish government's move, declining an appeal by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) and other industry representatives to strike it down.

A 2014 Ministry of Justice alcohol pricing policies report found net savings to society over a ten year period of $624m when minimum prices were set at $1.20 per standard drink. Nearly a fifth more alcohol is sold per adult in Scotland than in other parts of Britain, and Scottish authorities say alcohol misuse causes about 697 hospital admissions and 22 deaths a week.

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He said: "The Scottish Conservatives supported the introduction of a sunset clause, so that if minimum pricing proves to be ineffective then it can be scrapped".

The law bans cheap supermarket vodka, super-strength lager and cider.

Cautious that we're unable to accurately predict the consequences of enforcing MUP, Scottish ministers have included a "sunset clause" in the law, which means the pricing regulations will automatically end in six years if the government decides the policy isn't working.

"Within the powers of the Parliament its important that we continue to look at where further action can have a positive impact". "This cash could be reinvested in our NHS and in preventative public health programmes".

In Scotland, 53.5 per cent of adults said they had drunk in the previous week compared with 57.8 per cent in England and 50 per cent in Wales.