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Scotland to set minimum unit price for alcohol

DBR Staff Writer Published 27 February 2018

The Scottish Government is planning to introduce 50p minimum unit pricing for alcohol from 1 May 2018.

Scotland’s health secretary, Shona Robison said the decision was made after analysis of a public consultation, and the recommended price will now be laid before the Scottish Parliament

Robison said: “I am grateful to everyone who took the time to respond to the consultation on our proposed minimum price per unit of alcohol and I am happy to confirm that we will be moving forward with our recommendation of 50 pence.

“With alcohol on sale today in some places at just 16 pence per unit, we have to tackle the scourge of cheap, high-strength drink that causes so much damage to so many families. This move will save thousands of lives.”

Initially, this legislation was approved in 2012. But, the Scotch Whisky Association and European trade bodies moved to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the ruling breached the European Union’s laws on free movement of goods. The case cleared legal hurdles last November.

This minimum pricing is expected to reduce binge drinking, where the price of strong and cheap alcohols is raised to discourage them.

Last year, Alcohol Focus Scotland (AFS) stated that minimum alcohol pricing could reduce the number of alcohol-related deaths in Scotland significantly.

The national charity organisation stated that in the 1980s the number of alcohol-related deaths were about 600 per year, but this number more than doubled by mid 2000s, reaching to 1500 per year.

Without the minimum pricing, AFS stated that a four litre white cider (7.5% ABV) can be bought at less than £4, which means 22 units at 18p per unit.  With minimum pricing in place, the same four litre bottle will cost at least £11.25.

A 70cl bottle of vodka whose average price is £9.9 will be increased to £13. A 75cl bottle of wine whose price is £3 will increase to £4.9 and a 70cl blended whisky, whose price was £11 will now increase to £14.


Image: Scotland says the minimum unit pricing can reduce binge drinking. Photo: Courtesy of Steve McGrath/FreeImages.com.