Scotland to introduce minimum alcohol pricing from May 2018

Minimum price will be brought in 'as soon as practicable' after five-year legal delay

The proposed 50p per unit charge means four cans of lager would cost at least £4.40
The proposed 50p per unit charge means four cans of lager would cost at least £4.40

Scotland is aiming to introduce a minimum price for alcohol sales by May 2018 after the Supreme Court overturned an appeal trying to block the move.

The country's Health Secretary Shona Robison said today that they would seek to implement "as soon as is practicable" after finally being given the green light by the courts.

Last week’s ruling marks the end fo a five year legal battle after MSPs in the Scottish Parliament first voted through legislation to introduce a 50p per unit minimum price for alcohol back in 2012.

The challenge brought by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) and European alcohol producers argued the policy breached European laws, though this was dismissed last week.

The SWA conceded it had lost its appeal last week and Ms Robison told MSPs that it would be covering the Scottish Government’s legal costs.

Scotland will be the first country in the world to introduce a minimum unit pricing for alcohol, and the Health Secretary said today Scotland cannot afford to wait.

“Minimum unit pricing of alcohol has been delayed far too long. During the court cases, lives have been lost. That is why I will move to implement as soon as is practicable.”

A consultation on the regulations which will set the minimum unit price will begin in December, with ministers proposing that the order setting the minimum price will be laid before the Scottish Parliament at the start of March 2018.

The current proposal of a 50p per unit charge means four 440ml cans of five per cent strength lager would cost at least £4.40, a 12 per cent bottle of wine would be at least £4.50 and a 70cl bottle of whisky must cost at least £14.

Ms Robison said the order would state the Scottish Government’s intended implementation date of 1 May 2018.

The Health Secretary said: “Next May, we take a huge step forwards in tackling one of Scotland’s enduring health harms.

“Minimum unit pricing of alcohol can help to turn the tide on alcohol harm, and the 1st of May will be a landmark moment.”

Additional reporting by PA

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