UK Supreme Court backs minimum unit pricing for alcohol in Scotland


On Wednesday morning, seven Supreme Court justices in London unanimously dismissed an appeal by the Scotch Whisky Association, clearing the way for the plans to proceed.

The price of beer, wine and spirits is set to soar in Scotland as it becomes the first country in the world to impose a minimum price for alcohol.

Paul Bartlett, group corporate relations director, added: "I t is the right move to make, a progressive step forward in tackling the problems of alcohol misuse in Scotland, and we congratulate the Scottish Government on its perseverance".

In 2012 the Scottish Parliament passed legislation to introduce a minimum unit pricing for alcohol, as part of its efforts to improve public health, but the move was challenged by drinks associations and the case has been tied up in legal proceedings ever since without legislation being implemented.

Ministers want to set a minimum alcohol price of 50p per unit, claiming it will help to curtail alcohol-related deaths by clamping down on high-strength brands.

"This is a historic and far-reaching judgement and a landmark moment in our ambition to turn around Scotland's troubled relationship with alcohol", she said.

Alcohol-related deaths in Scotland have risen 10 percent since 2015, and the government says Scotland's troubled relationship with alcohol is significantly worse than the rest of the United Kingdom, with 17 percent more alcohol sold per adult in Scotland than in England and Wales in 2016.

SpiritsEUROPE regrets the UK Supreme Court ruling on MUP, which will distort competition by preventing efficient low-priced producers of alcoholic drinks in other Member States from using that competitive advantage against higher cost producers, without targeting those who drink at harmful levels. With alcohol available for sale at just 18 pence a unit, that death toll remains unacceptably high.

'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'.

It comes after figures showed there were 1,265 alcohol related deaths in Scotland in 2016 - a rise of 10 per cent on the previous year.

"Now that the Supreme Court have made their ruling, we urge the industry to get behind the decision".

The SWA said it accepts the court's decision and will continue to work with the government and the voluntary sector to promote responsible drinking and tackle alcohol-related harm.

Paul Bartlett, group corporate relations director, said: "C&C Group plc has been a strong and vocal supporter of Minimum Unit Pricing since it was first proposed in 2011".

'This is vital in order that the jobs and investment the industry provides in Scotland are not damaged. "At home, we hope to see an objective assessment of the impact of MUP".