Scotland to avoid minimum pricing on alcohol

Scotland to avoid minimum pricing on alcohol

Plans to implement a minimum price on alcoholic drinks in Scotland have been dealt a fatal blow by opposition politicians in the country's Parliament.

The decision today (22 September) by the Parliament's Health Committee effectively kills plans for a base price on drinks of GBP0.45 per alcohol unit. Minimum pricing will now be eliminated from the Alcohol Bill, which will go to a Parliamentary vote in the coming weeks.

The news is a blow to the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP), which, alongside health officials, has championed the need for minimum pricing to tackle excess drinking in Scotland. Opposition politicians succeeded in blocking the move, as expected, and their victory will be toasted by many in the drinks sector.

The Scotch Whisky Association has long argued that minimum pricing could be illegal under European Union law. It and other drinks trade bodies, including the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, have also warned that the policy would punish the majority of consumers who drink responsibly.

Other measures included in the SNP's Alcohol Bill, such as a ban on promotions and a "social responsibility levy" on retailers, were approved by the Parliament's Health Committee.

The UK Government in London is currently considering ways to use pricing and licensing to curb alcohol consumption in England and Wales.