Scotland introduces minimum unit pricing for alcohol

Alcoholic drinks will now have a minimum price of 50p (€0.57) per unit

Scotland introduces minimum unit pricing for alcohol

Picture by: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/PA Images

Scotland has introduced minimum unit pricing for alcohol as part of the government's efforts to "change people’s attitudes towards alcohol".

The Scottish government says they are the first in the world to introduce a minimum price for alcohol "based on the number of units in a drink".

The Irish Government is planning to introduce similar measures here.

Other versions of minimum alcohol pricing are already in effect in a small number of countries, including Canada, but are not based on units.

In Scotland, alcoholic drinks will now have a minimum price of 50p (€0.57) per unit.

Image: Scottish Government

Proponents of minimum unit pricing say it is aimed at tackling the availability of cheap alcohol.

It is focused on combating heavy and binge drinking, with the ultimate goal of cutting down on alcohol-related illnesses and health issues. 

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the legislation as 'bold and brave' action.

She observed: “It’s no secret that Scotland has a troubled relationship with alcohol. There are, on average, 22 alcohol-specific deaths every week in Scotland, and 697 hospital admissions and behind every one of these statistics is a person, a family, and a community badly affected by alcohol misuse.

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

Minimum alcohol pricing is set to come into effect in Ireland as part of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.

It would set the minimum price per gram of alcohol at €0.10.

The bill is set to be discussed by the Oireachtas health committee, having passed through the Seanad last year.