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18/11/2016

Scotland’s alcohol campaigners criticise arrogant Scotch Whisky Association for appealing minimum pricing

Alcohol Focus Scotland and SHAAP, who are both Eurocare members, say the Scotch Whisky Association’s intention to appeal the Court of Session ruling on minimum pricing for alcohol “beggars belief” and shows they only care about the profits of their member companies.

Alison Douglas, Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said:

“This is truly shocking and saddening news. In appealing minimum pricing to the UK Supreme Court, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) are ignoring both the will of the Scottish Parliament and the Court’s decision.

“Twenty two Scots are dying because of alcohol every single week. Minimum pricing will save many lives and improve many more. In taking legal action, SWA members like Diageo and Pernod Ricard continue to put their shareholders’ profits above the public interest. When it comes to the nation’s health, we cannot allow the alcohol industry to call the shots.

“It is totally disingenuous of the SWA to say they are committed to tackling alcohol harm when they consistently block the single most effective measure to achieve that. They are borrowing from the tactics of the tobacco companies in delaying this live-saving measure.

“Minimum pricing could have been in place for three years now; three years of alcohol-related illnesses, crimes and deaths that could have been avoided. How many more people will suffer while the SWA delay this life-saving policy?”

Eric Carlin, Director of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) said:

“It beggars belief that, after the Court of Session’s final decision that minimum unit pricing is legal and a vital component of efforts to reduce alcohol harms, the Scotch Whisky Association continues to challenge the Scottish Parliament and courts, with disregard for the health of Scottish people.

“They know that they will not win this case in London. Everyone knows that. Meanwhile 22 people die every week. One can only assume that their accountants have calculated that delaying the implementation of MUP will prolong, albeit for a short period, their profit-making from cheap booze, which damages the poor most of all.”

ENDS

For more information or to arrange interview please contact Gillian Bell at Alcohol Focus Scotland on 0141 572 6293 or Eric Carlin (SHAAP) on 07505 081 784.

Notes to editors

  • Alcohol Focus Scotland is Scotland’s national charity working to prevent and reduce alcohol harm.
  • SHAAP 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.
  • In the first year of implementation, a 50p minimum unit price is expected to mean 60 fewer deaths, 1,600 fewer hospital admissions and 3,500 fewer crimes.
  • The Alcohol Minimum Pricing (Scotland) Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 24 May 2012 but it has been delayed by the legal challenge led by the Scotch Whisky Association. The Court of Session refused the Scotch Whisky Association petition for judicial review in May 2013 and the matter was referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). In December 2015, the ECJ issued their judgement that the Scottish Government can use minimum pricing to reduce harm, as long as it can show that minimum pricing is more effective than taxation. The Court of Session case continued during June and July 2016 and The Court of Session rejected the Scotch Whisky Association’s appeal on 21 October 2016. Summary of ruling: http://www.scotland-judiciary.org.uk/9/1672/Scotch-Whisky-Association-and-others-v-Lord-Advocate-and-Advocate-General-for-Scotland