Brussels, 3 May – Today, the Scottish Government has won a case on Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) for alcohol (1) in the Scottish High Court - the first legally-binding minimum price on alcohol within the EU. Now the alcohol industry will have 21 days to decide whether it has grounds for appeal.
MUP sets a floor price below which alcohol cannot be legally sold and unlike taxation, MUP prices alcoholic beverages based on their strength.
Alcohol misuse hits the poor badly, most of whom rely on cheap alcohol to maintain their habit. Hazardous drinkers tend to belong to vulnerable socio-economic groups and bear the brunt of alcohol-related harm in terms of its social and health impact.
The measure is expected to reduce binge drinking in Scotland (2), and to have a positive impact on the region’s health and crime levels.
“This move by the Scottish High Court is a recognition of the baseless – and undemocratic - attempt by the alcohol industry to prevent an elected government from protecting the health of its population,” said Monika Kosińska, Secretary General of the European Public health Alliance (EPHA). “It is heartening to see the Scottish government prevail in this landmark case, and hopefully the alcohol industry will refrain from wasting more taxpayers money in delaying this process further,” concluded Ms Kosińska.
“I am delighted at the decision of the Scottish courts to support minimum unit pricing. This decision sends out a strong message to the drinks industry that the health community is not prepared to be steamrollered when the health of the public is at stake,” said Sir Ian Gilmore, Royal College of Physicians (RCP) special advisor on alcohol. “Scotland has a proud history of leading the way in UK public health with measures like the ban on smoking in public places, and we hope that the strong line the Scottish government has taken will also strengthen the resolve of Westminster on this issue,“ pointed out Sir Ian Gilmore.
Notes to editors
(1) In May 2012, the Scottish Parliament passed legislation to introduce a MUP for alcohol that was originally due to come into force in Scotland in 2013. However, it has been put on hold as the Scottish measure was legally challenged by the Scottish Whisky Association and the European wine and spirits producers.
(2) Last week, in an event in MUP in Brussels, Alex Neil, the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Health and Well-being said that “alcohol misuse is costing Scotland too much and we firmly believe that minimum pricing is a key measure in our overall strategy to reduce consumption and alcohol related harm. We are perfectly clear that taxation would not – and cannot – deliver the targeted impact on heavy drinkers that is so vital. We remain absolutely committed to introducing minimum pricing in Scotland.”
European Public health Alliance (EPHA)is a change agent – Europe’s leading NGO advocating for better health. We are a dynamic member-led organisation, made up of public health NGOs, patient groups, health professionals, and disease groups working together to improve health and strengthen the voice of public health in Europe.
The Royal College of Physicians is a British professional body of doctors of general medicine and its subspecialties. It was the first medical institution in England to become a Royal College, and the first Royal College in the UK and Ireland for physicians. The college has been continuously active in improving practice medicine since 1506, primarily though training and qualifying new physicians.
Javier Delgado Rivera, EPHA Communications Coordinator at email@example.com or +32(0) 2 230 3076.