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Alcohol minimum pricing bill passed

24/05/2012

Cut-price alcohol will become a thing of the past after Parliament today passed the Alcohol Minimum Pricing Bill.

This will pave the way for the introduction of a preferred minimum price of 50p per unit

The move is a significant step forward in the Scottish Government’s efforts to tackle Scotland’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

The policy has won broad support across different sectors including the medical profession, police forces, alcohol charities and significant parts of the drinks and licensed trade industry.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “This is a landmark moment in Scotland’s fight against alcohol misuse. I am delighted that Parliament has passed the Bill and minimum pricing will now become law. It has been a long road to get to where we are now and we have worked hard to convince those who were in doubt that this was the right policy for Scotland. I’m glad that my parliamentary colleagues have done the right thing today in voting to make these proposals a reality.

“This policy will save lives – it’s as simple as that. It is time to turn the tide of alcohol misuse that for too long has been crippling our country. Minimum pricing will kick-start a change by addressing a fundamental part of our alcohol culture -  the availability of high-strength low-cost alcohol.

“Together with other measures like quantity discounts, irresponsible promotions on alcohol and our record investment of £196 million to tackle alcohol misuse, I believe this wide package of measures will help to create the cultural shift needed to change our relationship with alcohol.”

The Bill sets a minimum price for a unit of alcohol as a condition of licence. It also sets the formula for calculating the minimum price (based on the strength of the alcohol, the volume of the alcohol and a price per unit of alcohol).

According to a minimum pricing modelling study carried out by the University of Sheffield, it is estimated that in the first year, introducing a minimum price of 50p would see:

  • 60 fewer deaths
  • 1,600 fewer hospital admissions
  • A total value of harm reduction of £64 million
  • Around 3,500 fewer crimes per year

After 10 years, benefits would increase to:

  • Over 300 fewer deaths annually
  • 6,500 fewer hospital admissions
  • A cumulative value of harm reduction of £942 million

Implementation of the policy will start in April next year at the earliest.