Reaction: UK industry responds to minimum unit alcohol pricing

The UK’s highest court ruled unanimously that setting a minimum price would not breach European Union law and that it was “a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”

Minimum alcohol pricing set to come into force in Scotland

But Karen Betts, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: "We accept the Supreme Court's ruling on minimum unit pricing of alcohol in Scotland".

Scottish ministers, along with several leading campaign groups and health bodies, believe bringing in a set minimum price per unit - expected to be 50p - would stop the damaging effects of high-strength alcohol being sold at such low costs.

The UK Supreme Court has unanimously decided that the 2012 Act did not breach European Union law and determined that minimum pricing for alcohol was a lawful means of achieving a legitimate aim.

The court on Wednesday rejected the Scottish Whisky Association's challenge to the policy of setting a floor price per unit of alcohol.

In reaching their decision, the Court examined the guidance provided by the Court of Justice of the EU ("CJEU").

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The judges, however, ruled the measure was a "proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim".

It is the right move to make: a progressive step forward in tackling the problems of alcohol misuse in Scotland and we congratulate the Scottish government on its perseverance.

The Scottish government has committed to a review of the policy after five years while a "sunset" provision, included in the legislation, means that it will expire after six years unless renewed by a ministerial decision which receives the positive approval of the Scottish parliament.

"This is a historic and far-reaching judgement and a landmark moment in our ambition to turn around Scotland's troubled relationship with alcohol.

We'll be working with the Scottish Government and our customers over the coming months to support the successful introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing". With both the Republic of Ireland and Wales also planning to introduce a Minimum Unit Price for alcohol the days of alcohol being sold at pocket-money prices are hopefully coming to an end.

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"For now, Hospitality Ulster will continue to work closely with Government to ensure that minimum pricing is introduced in Northern Ireland as soon as possible and by doing so, help tackle the serious issue of alcohol misuse and abuse".

Alcohol-related deaths in Scotland have risen 10 percent since 2015, and the government says Scotland's troubled relationship with alcohol is significantly worse than the rest of the United Kingdom, with 17 percent more alcohol sold per adult in Scotland than in England and Wales in 2016.

"Alcohol is 60 percent more affordable in the United Kingdom than it was in 1980 and alcohol misuse costs Scotland £3.6 billion each year [US$4.73billion] - £900 for every adult [US$1184]. In a ruling of global significance, the UK Supreme Court has unanimously backed our pioneering and life-saving alcohol pricing policy".

Sheffield University has suggested the policy could lead to 121 fewer deaths and 2,000 fewer hospital admissions a year.

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