The Scottish Government will introduce the Alcohol Minimum Pricing Bill in autumn 2011 which will introduce a minimum price per unit of alcohol. A specific minimum unit price will not be contained within the Bill because the Scottish Government considers separating the principle of the measure and the actual price allows each to be fully scrutinised and considered in turn. The aim of the Bill is to protect and improve public health by reducing alcohol consumption.
Given the link between consumption and harm, and evidence that affordability is one of the drivers of increased consumption, addressing price is an important element of any long-term strategy to tackle alcohol misuse. The Scottish Government has the powers and a strong mandate now to introduce a minimum price per unit of alcohol.
There is general recognition that Scotland's problem with alcohol must be addressed. Recently published alcohol sales data suggests that enough alcohol was sold in Scotland for every adult to exceed weekly recommended limits for men (21 units) each and every week since 2000. Alcohol sales are now 23% higher in Scotland than in England and Wales - the biggest difference ever recorded during the 17 years measured since 1994. The total cost of alcohol misuse to Scotland is estimated to average £3.56 billion every year - that equates to £900 for every adult living in Scotland.
Minimum pricing is one of over 40 measures in our Alcohol Framework aimed at reducing alcohol-related harm.