Setting a minimum price for alcoholic drinks will cost Scottish consumers more than GBP80m per year, according to research commissioned by brewer SABMiller, as talk of a legal challenge to the proposal grows.

The study, undertaken by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, adds to the drinks industry's growing campaign against the Scottish government's minimum pricing plan.

Every Scottish household would pay an extra GBP35 annually to maintain their current drinking habits, according to the SABMiller-sponsored study, released today (9 March).

It assumes a minimum price per alcoholic unit of 40p, which was the amount cited in last week's Scottish government strategy for tackling alcohol-related crime and health problems.

Drinks trade associations are considering a legal challenge to the pricing plan, which they believe may violate competition law both in the UK and EU.

One advisor to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has previously told just-drinks that there would be serious economic and legal barriers to minimum pricing. The source, who did not wish to be named, indicated that there would be concerns about the precedent such a move might set.

Privately, drinks trade bodies suspect that the Scottish government does not have a solid idea of how to make a minimum pricing system work.

The SABMiller-commissioned research found that minimum pricing could save the Scottish economy GBP38m per year in improved health and better job prospects for individuals. It added that harmful alcohol consumption would be reduced by 2.3%.

Suppliers to the drinks industry, meanwhile, could see their annual profits boosted by up to GBP100m.

Scotland's ruling National Party says that alcohol-related harm costs the national economy GBP2.25bn annually.