Christian addiction specialist welcomes new ban on cheap alcohol

Scotland has today introduced a minimum price for alcohol- sparking warnings that Scots will flock south of the border on'booze cruises to save money

Scotland has today introduced a minimum price for alcohol- sparking warnings that Scots will flock south of the border on'booze cruises to save money

This means that 70cl bottle of whisky (28 units of alcohol) could not be sold for less than £14.

The Act, first voted into the statute books by Scottish MSPs in 2012, was challenged by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

The law bans cheap supermarket vodka, super-strength lager and cider. It believes the measure contravenes European Union trading rules.

The law will hit alcoholic beverages such as white cider particularly hard.

However, pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants are unlikely to be particularly affected, given that the prices they charge are higher than the minimum requirement.

The law has a "sunset clause" within it, meaning it can be repealed after six years if Holyrood decides it has been ineffective.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon praised Scotland for being "bold enough and fearless enough" to take the step.

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"Our action is bold and it is fearless, and shows once again that we are leading the way in introducing innovative solutions to public health challenges".

"The introduction of MUP represents a major change to alcohol policy in Scotland".

Its aim is to cut alcohol deaths and hospital admissions, as well as slashing crime and reducing costs to the health service, but now experts want the same in England and warn that any delay could have serious consequences for the North East.

In the trade, the decision has been met with both praise and scepticism. "The less alcohol you drink, the lower your risk of cancer", she said.

At 50p per unit of alcohol that means a minimum price of £14.

"We remain convinced there are more appropriate, proportionate and effective responses to tackle harmful use of beer, wine and spirits drinks".

Minimum unit pricing, or MUP, simply sets a floor price for a unit of alcohol, meaning it can not legally be sold for less than that.

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Scots consume almost 20 percent more alcohol on average than residents of England or Wales, according to government data.

"This is an important milestone for Scotland, and many other parts of the world will now be watching the implementation of minimum unit pricing with great interest".

- What is Minimum unit pricing? Further measures need to be taken to increase public understanding of the dangers of drinking alcohol.

- What impact could MUP have on harm reduction?

Speaking to the Telegraph, Christopher Snowdon, the director of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, commented: "I would say that Scots will be hopping across the border to buy alcohol that is, in some cases, less than half price".

One comes into effect in Scotland today, set at 50 pence per unit. "A rise in drug use is also on the cards as people use substances such as Spice as a substitute for cheap alcohol".

Some campaigners are calling for similar legislation to be introduced in England - with fears that many lives could be lost as a result of alcohol, and that the NHS will be footing a bill worth millions.

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He said: We think there is enough evidence for the Government to bring it in in England, it's being brought in in Wales, we know that the plan's afoot in Northern Ireland and it's already happening as we know in Scotland, so England looks like an outlier.

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