World News

Date set for minimum price of alcohol as whisky industry faces tab

Date set for minimum price of alcohol as whisky industry faces tab

Minimum pricing for alcohol in Scotland, aimed at improving public health in the northernmost part of the United Kingdom, will be introduced on May 1 next year, Scotland's devolved government said on Tuesday.

A minimum price of 50 pence per unit of alcohol has been agreed by MSPs, Scotland's health secretary Shona Robison has confirmed.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Robison said: "There were 1,265 alcohol-related deaths past year, up 10% on 2015, while just today we see statistics showing a 2% annual increase in alcohol-related hospital stays".

The minimum alcohol price, which was passed by MSPs five years ago, was finally given the go ahead by the Supreme Court last week after a legal challenge by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) was rejected.

"These numbers are completely unacceptable".

The Scottish Government hopes that minimum unit pricing for alcohol will reduce the number of alcohol-related deaths in Scotland.

More news: Three suspected terrorists arrested in Kolkata

"With alcohol on sale today at just 18 pence (24 cents) a unit, we have to act to tackle the scourge of cheap, high-strength drink that causes so much damage".

The Scottish Government will implement its policy for minimum unit pricing on 1 May 2018.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie is reported to be among those to have called for a 60p minimum price.

MSPs backed the policy five years ago but its implementation was blocked by a lengthy legal challenge from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), which argued it broke European Union law.

Mr Neil argued that the SWA's offer to pay the Scottish Government's legal costs was "not enough" because the delay caused by the "unnecessary and irresponsible" court action could have cost nearly 400 lives.


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