The Scottish government has backed plans to establish minimum prices per unit on all alcoholic beverages being sold throughout the country.
After conducting an extensive public consultation on the associated issues, the government has said it now intends to stop alcoholic drinks being sold at anything less than 50 pence per unit.
Hopes are that the minimum price per unit will prevent heavy drinkers in particular from taking advantage of easy access to cheap booze in ways that could ultimately be damaging to themselves and to people around them.
“I am grateful to everyone who took the time to respond to the consultation on our proposed minimum price per unit of alcohol and I am happy to confirm that we will be moving forward with our recommendation of 50 pence,” health secretary Shona Robinson said in a statement.
“With alcohol on sale today in some places at just 16 pence per unit, we have to tackle the scourge of cheap, high-strength drink that causes so much damage to so many families.”
Plans are now in place to see that the minimum price per unit policy comes into effect across Scotland from May of this year, with the government convinced that the restrictions will eventually “save thousands of lives” nationwide.
Legislation that would limit the availability of cheap alcohol across Scotland was drawn up and proposed at Holyrood in 2012 but plans to bring the relevant rules into effect were stalled for several years by various legal challenges.
Those challenges were officially overcome by way of a verdict on the matter by the Supreme Court in London in November 2017.
The Scottish Whisky Association was among the organisations to contest the basis of the Scottish government’s plans for unit price minimums but judges at the Supreme Court decided the proposals represented a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”.
According to the campaign group Alcohol Focus Scotland, alcohol is responsible for close to 3,700 deaths in Scotland every year.
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