A leading world health consultant has backed the Scottish Government's proposal to set a minimum price on alcoholic drinks.

Dr Peter Anderson, who advises both the European Commission and the World Health Organisation, spoke of his support for minimum pricing at a summit on alcohol consumption hosted by Scotland's ruling National Party yesterday (22 June).

"You had the courage to introduce smoke free pubs; let us hope that you have the same courage to introduce a minimum price for alcohol," said Anderson at the event, held in Edinburgh.

His words will add to growing concern among some in the drinks industry that Governments around the world increasingly view price as a central factor in affecting alcohol consumption.

The Scottish National Party, which claims that alcohol abuse costs the country GBP2.25bn annually, has added minimum pricing to its Health Bill, set to be debated in Scotland's Parliament later this year.

However, the other major parties, Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat, have yet to come out in support of minimum pricing.

Trade body the Scotch Whisky Association has warned that the policy may contravene international trade law.

Not everyone in the industry is believed to oppose a base price for alcohol, just-drinks understands. Many in the on-trade are keen to see an end to cut-price drinks in retail.