Min­i­mum pric­ing for al­co­hol backed

Evening Telegraph (Late Extra Edition) - - PUZZLES -

SCOT­LAND will be­come the first coun­try in the world to in­tro­duce min­i­mum unit pric­ing for al­co­hol.

Supreme Court jus­tices gave their back­ing to the con­tro­ver­sial mea­sure in what min­is­ters in Ed­in­burgh hailed as a “his­toric and far-reach­ing judg­ment”.

Seven jus­tices at the UK’s high­est court dis­missed a le­gal chal­lenge that had been brought against min­i­mum unit pric­ing by the Scotch Whisky As­so­ci­a­tion (SWA).

The de­ci­sion clears the way for the Scottish Gov­ern­ment to bring in the pol­icy more than five years af­ter MSPs passed leg­is­la­tion for it.

First Min­is­ter Nicola Stur­geon tweeted: “Ab­so­lutely de­lighted that min­i­mum pric­ing has been up­held by the Supreme Court.

“This has been a long road — and no doubt the pol­icy will con­tinue to have its crit­ics — but it is a bold and nec­es­sary move to im­prove pub­lic health.”

The SWA had brought a le­gal chal­lenge af­ter the leg­is­la­tion was passed, tak­ing the case to the high­est court in Scot­land and the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice, be­fore it ended up at the UK’s high­est court.

Dur­ing a hear­ing in July, the judges heard ar­gu­ments from the or­gan­i­sa­tion that min­i­mum unit pric­ing (MUP) was “dis­pro­por­tion­ate” and il­le­gal un­der Euro­pean law.

The SWA said there were bet­ter ways to achieve the Scottish Gov­ern­ment’s pro­posed 50p per unit min­i­mum pric­ing plan.

But the Supreme Court unan­i­mously ruled there was no breach of Euro­pean Union law and that min­i­mum pric­ing “is a pro­por­tion­ate means of achiev­ing a le­git­i­mate aim”.

SWA chief ex­ec­u­tive Karen Betts said: “We ac­cept the Supreme Court’s rul­ing on min­i­mum unit pric­ing of al­co­hol in Scot­land.”

Scottish health sec­re­tary Shona Ro­bi­son wel­comed the de­ci­sion, say­ing: “This is a his­toric and far-reach­ing judg­ment and a land­mark mo­ment in our am­bi­tion to turn around Scot­land’s trou­bled re­la­tion­ship with al­co­hol.

“In a rul­ing of global sig­nif­i­cance, the UK Supreme Court has unan­i­mously backed our pi­o­neer­ing and life-sav­ing al­co­hol pric­ing pol­icy.

“This has been a long jour­ney and in the five years since the Act was passed, al­co­hol-re­lated deaths in Scot­land have in­creased.

“With al­co­hol avail­able for sale at just 18p a unit, that death toll re­mains un­ac­cept­ably high.

“Given the clear and proven link be­tween con­sump­tion and harm, min­i­mum pric­ing is the most ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient way to tackle the cheap, high­strength al­co­hol that causes so much dam­age to so many fam­i­lies.”

She said the Scottish Gov­ern­ment would now pro­ceed with plans to bring in min­i­mum unit pric­ing “as quickly as pos­si­ble”.

Fig­ures showed there were 1,265 al­co­hol-re­lated deaths in Scot­land in 2016 — a rise of 10% on the pre­vi­ous year.

See to­mor­row’s Tele for an in-depth look at what the new min­i­mum pric­ing will mean to you.

The rul­ing will hit cheap booze deals.

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