Minimum unit pricing for alcohol in Scotland to come into force in May

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

PicListock/runniechua
PicListock/runniechua
The Scottish government has announced that minimum unit pricing for alcohol will come into effect on May 1 next year.

A consultation on the 50 pence (66 cents) minimum unit price will be launched next week, with retailers, representative bodies and Licensing Standards Officers also invited to submit their opinions on the practicalities of implementation.

Last week the UK Supreme Court ruled that minimum unit pricing could go ahead, dismissing an appeal led by the Scotch Whisky Association. After a five year journey through the courts, the Scottish government is now trying to implement the policy as quickly as possible.

This would make it the first country in the world to introduce such a policy.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “There were 1,265 alcohol-related deaths last year, up 10% on 2015, while just today we see statistics showing a 2% annual increase in alcohol-related hospital stays. These numbers are completely unacceptable. Behind every one of these statistics is a person, a family and a community.

“With alcohol on sale today at just 18 pence (24 cents) a unit, we have to act to tackle the scourge of cheap, high-strength drink that causes so much damage.

“Research shows a minimum unit price of 50 pence would cut alcohol-related deaths by 392 and hospital admissions by 8,254 over the first five years of the policy.”

The drinks industry, however, had argued that there is no link between alcohol price increases and reduction in alcohol related harm, arguing it creates an illegal barrier to trade. They are now calling for objective assessments of the impact of MUP once implemented. 

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