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Scotland Introduces Minimum Pricing For Alcohol

Scotland has become the first country in the world to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol.

Retailers must now ensure a unit of alcohol is not priced below 50p, in a government bid to reduce the high number of alcohol-related deaths in the country each year.

New legislation has come into force May 1.

Twenty-two people die from alcohol related illnesses in Scotland every week – a problem which costs Scotland’s health system more than £3bn annually.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the new law should save lives.

“Over the first five years of this policy the estimate is that several hundred fewer deaths from alcohol will be recorded and we will reduce admissions to hospital,” she said.

“These are statistics, but every single one of these statistics is a human being, with a family, with friends, with a life and if we can save these lives this is a policy definitely worth pursuing.”

The legislation was passed by the Scottish Government in 2012, however a duspute with industry suppliers saw the policy challenged in the courts which ruled in the Scottish Government’s favour in late 2017.

Scottish doctors hailed the implementation of the policy as an essential milestone for Scotland.

Dr Peter Bennie, Chair of BMA Scotland said: “Minimum unit pricing is a policy that will help to save lives and reduce alcohol harms in Scotland. It will help to reduce the burden of alcohol on our health service, on Scottish society, and most importantly on individuals and their families.

“Minimum unit pricing can make a significant impact, but we have always been clear that it needs to be part of a broad range of actions to tackle the harms caused by alcohol misuse. As a society, we need to be prepared to show the same determination when it comes to taking further action.”

Dr. Catherine Calderwood, Scotland’s chief medical officer, said that “As a nation, we drink 40% more than the low-risk drinking guidelines of 14 units per week for men and women.”

“That is where this new legislation comes in, and I am confident that over the first five years of its operation, minimum unit pricing will reduce the number of alcohol-specific deaths by hundreds, and hospital admissions by thousands.” she added.

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