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Global alcohol conference

Published: 7 Oct 2015 16:09

FM: Government “absolutely committed” to minimum pricing.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that the Scottish Government will continue to press the case to introduce minimum unit pricing and limit the sale of 'deadly cheap' alcohol.

Ms Sturgeon was addressing the Global Alcohol Policy Conference and an audience of more than 400 leading health researchers and campaigners who have travelled to Scotland from more than 50 countries around the world.

The Scottish Government's policy on minimum unit pricing – which would target alcohol which causes the greatest harm – is currently subject to court proceedings.

Last month, the European Court of Justice's Advocate General confirmed that minimum unit pricing is not precluded by EU law and can be implemented if it is shown to be the most effective public health measure available.

The Scottish Government will continue to make the case in the Court of Session when it returns there later this year.

The First Minister said:

"I can confirm that the Scottish government continues to be absolutely committed to minimum unit pricing.

"I will continue to make the case against the sale of deadly cheap alcohol. During the three days of this conference, it is likely that approximately 300 people in Scotland will be admitted to hospital as a result of alcohol misuse, and that approximately 10 people will die.

"Those shocking statistics demonstrate all too clearly why minimum pricing is the right measure for Scotland to reduce the harm that cheap, high-strength alcohol causes our communities.

"We firmly believe that minimum pricing will reduce damaging alcohol consumption, improve health and save lives – and that it will do so more effectively than any alternative measures available to us."


People in Scotland drink almost a fifth more alcohol than people in England and Wales.

Alcohol misuse is costing Scotland £3.6 billion each year – £900 for every adult.

The ban on bulk discounts in shops has reduced alcohol sales by an estimated 2.6 per cent since its introduction in 2011.

Empirical evidence from Canada shows a 10 per cent increase in minimum price results in 32 per cent reduction in wholly alcohol attributable deaths.

A minimum unit price of 50p is estimated to result in:

  • 60 fewer deaths in year 1 and over 300 fewer deaths per annum by year 10 of the policy.
  • fall in hospital admissions of 1,600 in year 1, and 6,500 per year by year ten of the policy.
  • fall in crime volumes by around 3,500 offences per year.
  • financial saving from harm reduction (health, employment, crime etc) of £942 million over ten years.