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21/10/2016

Health professions welcome Court of Session ruling on Alcohol Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) in Scotland

Scotland’s doctors and health professionals have welcomed the Court of Session’s final decision today that the Scottish Government’s Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) policy is legal.

SHAAP (Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems), Eurocare Member, representing the Scottish medical professions, has argued the case for MUP for almost a decade.

The Scottish Government passed legislation to set a minimum price for alcohol in April 2012, with no opposition in Parliament, but the implementation of the law has been delayed by legal challenges here and in Europe by a consortium of global alcohol producers, fronted by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

International bodies, including the World Health Organisation and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, have consistently supported price controls, including MUP as effective tools to reduce alcohol-related harms, saving lives and reducing costs to public services.

Off-sales and supermarket alcohol prices in Scotland are at historically low prices. A recent report from the UK’s Alcohol Health Alliance Cheap alcohol: the price we pay”, found that alcohol can be purchased for as little as 18p per unit in Scotland (3L ‘White Ace’ cider). The average child’s weekly pocket money of £5.75 can buy more than double the Chief Medical Officer’s weekly recommended adult limit (14 units) of alcohol.

Twenty-two Scots die every week because of alcohol. Twenty-two avoidable deaths.

Dr Peter Rice, SHAAP Chair, said:

“As the heaviest drinkers in Scotland have switched from drinking in pubs to drinking at home, and from whisky and beer to vodka and strong cider, doctors and health professionals have seen the impact on our patients.

“We are satisfied that the Scottish courts have concluded that MUP is legal, as we have argued for many years, and we now call for it to be implemented without delay.

“During the years when the SWA and its backers have prevented implementation, front line staff have seen hundreds of deaths and thousands of lives damaged. Much of this harm would have been avoided if MUP had been in place.

“We now call for the SWA to step aside and allow this life saving measure to go ahead.”

Eric Carlin, SHAAP Director, said:

“We welcome the ruling today and call on the Scottish Government to implement the legislation as a matter of urgency,

“The global alcohol industry’s actions in Scotland have meant that a measure that could have significantly reduces alcohol-related harm and saved thousands of lives over the last four years.

This was never about Scotch Whisky; so-called ‘quality’ whisky brands are unaffected by MUP.

These international companies have the economic clout to continue to fund a renewed legal challenge at the Supreme Court in London. However, we would urge the SWA to respect the decision of the Scottish court and consider this matter closed.”

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Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) is a partnership of the Royal Colleges and Faculties in Scotland that provides the authoritative medical and clinical voice on the need to reduce the impact of alcohol related harm on the health and wellbeing of people in Scotland and the evidence-based approaches to achieve this.