Critics hit out at Scottish Government's minimum alcohol pricing plan

 

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."

PA

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
football
Life and Style
Jack Cooksey goes for the grand unveiling - moments before dropping his new iPhone 6 on the floor
iphone launch
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Life and Style
Customers look at the new iPhones on display at the launch of the new Apple iPhone 6 and iphone 6 plus at the Apple IFC store in Hong Kong
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Sport
Andros Townsend is challenged by Vladimir Volkov
football
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery assistants required across Cambridgeshire

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...

SEN 1:1 Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a qualified teache...

SEN Teachers and Support Staff

£50 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an SEN Teacher or L...

English and Media Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: English & Media Teacher - ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week