UK: Scottish Government ups pressure for alcohol sales curbs
Scotland's Government is attempting to increase support for its plans to restrict alcoholic drinks sales, by highlighting new research that shows the cost of alcohol-related harm his higher than expected.
Excess drinking costs Scotland between GBP2.5bn (US$4bn) and GBP4.7bn annually, equivalent to around a tenth of the country's yearly budget, according to new research completed by the University of York.
Scotland's ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) published the figures today (12 January) to push its case for wide-ranging curbs on alcohol sales and promotions.
Previous SNP estimates put the cost of alcohol misuse to the national economy at GBP2.25bn.
Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said that the York study "takes a more comprehensive view than any previous study".
She and other ministers called on opposition politicians to support the SNP's Alcohol Health Bill, which includes plans to set a minimum price on drinks, a ban on off-trade promotions and a "social responsibility" levy on on some retailers.
Drinks industry bodies have strongly criticised minimum pricing as ineffective, while it and the social levy are considered potentially illegal.
The SNP failed to gain political support for minimum pricing late last year, but has set up a special commission to gather more evidence.
Privately, industry leaders believe that some action on pricing is inevitable, even if a broad-brush base price per alcoholic unit is avoided.
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