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Scottish government claims minimum pricing is legal

Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has issued a statement that she has been assured that the principle of minimum pricing is entirely compatible with EU law. She said that the confirmation was received during a meeting with EU Health Commissioner John Dalli and other senior officials in Brussels this week.

However, a spokesman for John Dalli later disputed the claim. The BBC reported the spokesman as saying:

"We will have to check if Scotland's proposals are compatible with EU law. At this stage we don't know."

Nicola Sturgeon’s version of events was welcomed by Scottish Nationalist Party MSP Bob Doris. He said:

"The SNP has always understood that minimum pricing would be perfectly legal, but this confirmation from the Health Commissioner himself is very welcome nonetheless.

"The issue of legality has been used a smokescreen by opponents of minimum pricing, but that excuse is no longer available to them. They must now accept that the principle of minimum pricing is legally acceptable to the EU and that there is no legal barrier to the Scottish Government legislating to introduce it.”

An independent report by the University of Sheffield published on 31st January 2012 reaffirmed that minimum pricing could be an effective means of reducing alcohol related harm in Scotland. The report found that a 45p minimum unit price for alcohol could prevent 3,600 crimes each year and 6,600 hospital admissions.

To see the report from the University of Sheffield click here: