Critics hit out at Scottish Government's minimum alcohol pricing plan
Monday 14 May 2012
Critics of the Scottish Government's plans for minimum pricing have hit out at the proposed 50p-a-unit price, branding it a regressive charge which will treat drinkers “as if they're children to be nannied by the Government”.
Health campaigners have long backed the measure.
Dr Brian Keighley, chairman of the British Medical Association in Scotland, said minimum pricing could help to end the country's heavy-drinking culture.
The doctors' leader said: "I am proud that Scotland's politicians are once again leading the world on public health policy."
Drinks bodies claim the levy will penalise responsible drinkers and do nothing to tackle the causes of alcohol abuse.
That was the message from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) which argued that a minimum unit price of 50p would see almost three-quarters of drinks prices in off-sales rise overnight.
It estimated a bottle of wine selling for £3.33 would rise to £5.06, while a £11.10 bottle of vodka would cost £13.13.
WSTA interim chief executive Gavin Partington said: "Hard-pressed consumers in Scotland can now see the true impact of the Scottish Government's policy. A minimum unit price of 50p will punish the majority of responsible consumers with higher prices, hitting the poorest hardest and will do nothing to tackle the root causes of alcohol misuse."
Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said the price of a one-litre bottle of blended Scotch whisky would increase by 22%, going from an average of £16.40 to a minimum of £20.
He claimed the charge would be "ineffective in tackling alcohol misuse" and also said it had "consistently been ruled to be illegal in Europe".
Mr Hewitt went on: "It will damage the industry. The Scottish Government's own research shows that minimum pricing will not reduce the number of hazardous drinkers."
Sam Bowman, head of research at economic think tank the Adam Smith Institute, was scathing of the charge, branding it "a miserable, Victorian-era measure that explicitly targets the poor and the frugal, leaving the more expensive drinks of the middle classes untouched".
He said: "It's regressive and paternalistic, treating people as if they're children to be nannied by the Government."
Britons "drink less than we did 10 years ago, less than we did 100 years ago and far less than we did in the 19th century".
Mr Bowman said: "Hysteria about drinking alcohol is a red herring invented by the health lobby. Health fascism is back with a vengeance and minimum alcohol pricing is just another brick in the wall."
But Dr Keighley said the proposed 50p unit charge will reduce the toll of alcohol on the health service, saying: "By setting the price at this level, it is estimated that in Scotland at least 8,600 alcohol-related hospital admissions and deaths will be prevented."
He hit out at supermarkets which "continue to sell high-alcohol products such as vodka and ciders at ridiculously cheap prices to entice customers to their store".
Dr Keighley said: "The trend for cheap alcohol and excessive consumption has a human cost. Alcohol-related illness causes one death every three hours in Scotland and the total healthcare costs are more than £268 million. This increasing cost could cripple the NHS with a financial burden that is no longer sustainable, especially in the current financial climate."
The Scottish Licensed Trade Association, which represents pubs and clubs, welcomed the measure.
Chief executive Paul Waterson hailed minimum pricing as a "brave step by the Scottish Government", saying: "The 50p-per-unit minimum price is an appropriate starting point which is fair and proportionate to help combat the low-cost sales of alcohol we see around us every day which contribute to the abuse of alcohol problems within Scotland."
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
- 2 iOS 8 is full of shiny new features - but it's terrible news for app developers
- 3 Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
- 4 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Scottish independence results live: Reunited kingdom - Scotland gives a clear 'No' in historic referendum
Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
Scottish independence: YouGov final prediction puts No campaign 8 points ahead - but Yes team remains optimistic
Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...
£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a qualified teache...
£50 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an SEN Teacher or L...
£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: English & Media Teacher - ...