Health Secretary committed to minimum pricing for alcohol

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A minimum price for alcohol will be confirmed before the next stage of the Alcohol (Scotland) Bill, it was announced today ahead of a cross-party meeting addressing ways of tackling Scotland’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

The Scottish Government favours minimum pricing as the most effective way of tackling the cost of alcohol misuse.


A minimum price for alcohol will be confirmed before the next stage of the Alcohol (Scotland) Bill, it was announced today ahead of a cross-party meeting addressing ways of tackling Scotland’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

The Scottish Government favours minimum pricing as the most effective way of tackling the cost of alcohol misuse.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said:

“I believe that tackling Scotland’s damaging relationship with alcohol should transcend party politics. There is a large and growing body of support for minimum pricing and I appeal to opposition colleagues to support the evidence-based policy that already has the backing of doctors, nurses, the police and significant numbers of the wider population.

“Colleagues have asked that we publish the rate at which the minimum price will be set and I can confirm that I will announce that before Stage 2 of the bill.

“Research, including the recently published Neilson report, shows a clear link between cheap alcohol and increased consumption. I am pleased that all parties accept that cheap alcohol is fuelling the problem and addressing the cost should be part of the solution. What we don’t agree on is how to bring about the change that is necessary to reduce the horrific toll, in human and financial terms, which alcohol takes on this country.

“As we have made clear we are open to suggestions and will consider any proposals from other parties that will make a positive contribution to this debate.

“The Scottish Government believes that minimum pricing is the best way to target problem drinkers who favour high-strength alcohol sold at pocket-money prices. Quite simply imposing a minimum price will help improve the nation’s health.”

The total cost of alcohol misuse in Scotland is estimated to be around £3.56 billion – £900 for every adult in the country.

On average, Scotland sees 115 hospital admissions every day related to alcohol misuse.

Alcohol is now 70 per cent more affordable than it was in 1980 and consumption has increased by around 20 per cent over the same period.

The Neilson report on alcohol sales over the five years 2005-09 was published on July 21, 2010 and showed that adults in Scotland buy on average 24 per cent more alcohol than the rest of Britain. It also confirmed that the average price of alcohol is 1.31 pounds per unit in bars, pubs, clubs, restaurants and hotels which account for 32 per cent of all drink sold, but only 43 pence per unit in the off-trade, which accounts for 68 per cent of sales.