THE Scottish Government has announced it plans to introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol on 1 May 2018. In a ministerial statement to parliament, Health Secretary Shona Robison updated MSPs on plans to introduce the policy next spring following a consultation on the preferred minimum unit price of 50p which will be published next week.
Plans to form a group with retailers in December to discuss the practicalities of implementing minimum pricing are also underway according to Robison, who said the Scottish Government is already in dialogue with representative bodies.
Robison said: “We want to introduce minimum unit pricing as quickly as possible.
“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 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.
“I anticipate setting the minimum unit price at 50 pence per unit. We now want to hear from retailers, representative bodies and Licensing Standards Officers about the practicalities of implementation.”
Robison’s announcement follows the recent UK Supreme Court ruling in favour of the minimum pricing Act which was first passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2012. The preferred minimum unit price at that time was also 50p, a figure that would set minimum prices of £4.69 for a 12.5% ABV bottle of wine, £4.40 for four 440ml cans of 5% ABV lager, and £11.25 for a three litre bottle of 7.5% ABV cider.