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Alcoholism

Minimum unit alcohol pricing to go ahead in Scotland

The Scottish Government said it would now consult on implementing a minimum price of 50 pence per unit of alcohol.

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Scottish health minister Shona Robison said minimum pricing was the most effective and efficient way to tackle the cheap, high-strength alcohol that causes so much damage to so many families

Minimum unit alcohol pricing, which will increase the price of beer, wine and spirits in the shops, is to go ahead in Scotland following a UK Supreme Court ruling.

The court dismissed a challenge from the Scotch Whisky Association to the public health legislation, which was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2012.

The Scottish Government said it would now consult on implementing a minimum price of 50 pence per unit of alcohol.

Scottish health minister Shona Robison said: “Given the clear and proven link between consumption and harm, minimum pricing is the most effective and efficient way to tackle the cheap, high-strength alcohol that causes so much damage to so many families.

“So, we will proceed with plans to introduce minimum unit pricing as quickly as possible. I intend to make a statement to Parliament shortly setting out our next steps, including our preferred implementation timetable and how we will engage with retailers and industry to make this a success.

Sharon Pfleger, consultant in pharmaceutical public health at NHS Highland, said: “Scotland’s drink problem is significantly worse than the rest of the UK and cheap drink is making the problem worse. The Supreme Court decision on minimum pricing of alcohol in Scotland is welcomed as yet another measure to tackle societal ill health and harm.

“The policy will particularly improve the health of the most deprived in Scotland, because five times as many people living in the most deprived areas die an alcohol-related death as those living in the least deprived; are six times more likely to be discharged from hospital with an alcohol-related condition; and eight times more likely to be admitted to a psychiatric unit with an alcohol-related disorder than people living in the least deprived area.”

RPS Scotland practice and policy lead, Aileen Bryson, welcomed the court’s ruling as a decision that would improve the general public health in Scotland and promote responsible drinking.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20203964

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