The IAS has written to the European Commission to express its support for the Scottish Government’s Minimum Pricing Act, to introduce a minimum price per unit of alcohol (MUP).
The Institute argues that the Act is a proportionate response to a public health need in Scotland and that there is a “wealth of scientific evidence” to show that alcohol price increases are an effective legislative tool for policymakers.
The Minimum Pricing Act – passed earlier this year – is subject to a legal challenge from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), on the grounds that it constitutes a breach of European Union trade law. However, IAS highlights that MUP will be applied indiscriminately to both domestic and imported alcohol products so will not penalise European imports. Indeed, the majority of cheap drink that will be most affected by MUP is domestically produced, such as white cider.
Unlike duty increases, which can be absorbed by retailers, MUP will set a floor price at which alcohol can be sold. In doing so it will target the cheapest alcohol that causes the most harm.
Research by the University of Sheffield predicts MUP set at 50p will lead to the prevention of more than 300 alcohol-related deaths and 500 violent crimes in Scotland each year.