Home > Latest News > Environmental Health > Public Health >

Free Trade Rules Could Stop Minimum Alcohol Pricing in Scotland

September 3, 2015
Public Health

beer-tokenIn the opinion of the European Court of Justice’s advocate general, proposals to introduce minimum alcohol pricing in Scotland may break European Union rules on free trade.

The Scottish parliament passed legislation in May 2012 to introduce a minimum 50p unit price for alcohol. Following an appeal by the Scotch Whisky Association, proposals were put on hold pending a ruling by the European Court in Luxembourg. The advocate general said that the move would only be considered legal if no other mechanism could produce the desired benefits. The government argue that action is needed to address what it calls the country’s “unhealthy relationship with drink.”

Linda Bauld, Professor of Health Policy at Stirling University, told BBC Radio Scotlan: “The reason the Scottish Parliament passed this measure is that there is strong and clear evidence that increased price reduces both hazardous drinking and alcohol problems. We know that since minimum pricing was passed in the Scottish Parliament, around 2,500 Scots have died because of alcohol.”

Alcohol related deaths in Scotland increased for a third year in a row during 2014, with nearly 30 men out of every 100,000 dying of alcohol-related diseases compared to a UK average of 19 deaths per 100,000. The progress of the case in Scotland is being watched closely by politicians in England and Wales, where minimum alcohol pricing is still under debate.