UK Supreme Court backs minimum unit pricing for alcohol in Scotland

Wednesday, 15 Nov, 2017

SCOTLAND will become the first part of the United Kingdom to set a minimum price for alcohol in a bid to target problem drinking.

This would make it the first country in the world to establish minimum unit pricing for alcohol. We remain convinced there are more appropriate, proportionate and effective responses to tackle harmful use of beer, wine and spirits drinks.

It clears the way for Holyrood to bring in the policy more than five years after first passing legislation specifying a minimum price per unit of 50p, meaning a bottle of spirits would cost at least £14, and a bottle of wine around £4.50.

We are determined to continue the fight against irresponsible drinking which is a blight upon our society and sector.

'We regret, but respect, the Supreme Court decision and hope to count on the Scottish government to ensure a smooth implementation of this legislation, in a way that would as much as possible limit market distortion and preserve a level-playing field.' said Jean-Marie Barillère, president of CEEV.

Ministers will now conduct a consultation on the proposed 50 pence per unit price and refresh the Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) that is required by Parliament.

Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robison welcomed the decision saying: 'This is a historic and far-reaching judgment and a landmark moment in our ambition to turn around Scotland's troubled relationship with alcohol.

And it estimated that alcohol misuse costs Scotland some £3.6 billion a year - the equivalent of £900 for every adult.

Minimum pricing for alcohol is set to come into force in Scotland after a legal challenge was thrown out.

Supreme Court: Judges issued their ruling on Wednesday. With alcohol available for sale at just 18 pence a unit, that death toll remains unacceptably high.

The judgement, handed down by justice Lord Mance, said that increasing alcohol price by an excise duty or Value-Added Tax increase "would not be equally effective" at targeting cheap alcohol.

"Now that the Supreme Court have made their ruling, we urge the industry to get behind the decision".

"We will now look to the Scottish and UK Governments to support the industry against the negative effects of trade barriers being raised in overseas markets that discriminate against scotch whisky as a outcome of minimum pricing", SWA's Chief Executive Karen Betts said in a statement.

'This is vital in order that the jobs and investment the industry provides in Scotland are not damaged.