Judges urged to bring an end to alcohol MUP saga

Judges in the Court of Session have been urged by health professionals to make a quick decision on minimum pricing for alcohol.

The policy which was approved by the Scottish Parliament in 2012 has gained the support of medics and numerous other health professionals and charities.

However, the controversial legislation, which would see a minimum unit price of 50p for alcohol introduced, has been opposed by the Scotch Whisky Association and other European wine and spirits producers who claim it breaches European law.

Dr Adrianna Andreangeli, a lecturer in competition law at Edinburgh University, said that “now is the time for the Scottish government to be courageous and consider whether now is the time to move away from the safety of fiscal measures to embrace the ‘brave new world’ of price controls as tools of genuine public interest regulation.”

The ECJ previously ruled that minimum pricing would indeed breach EU law and it returned the case back to the Court of Session.

Dr Andreangeli said similar measures implemented in Canda were effective in reducing “harmful alcohol demand” in contrast to general tax increases.

Eric Carlin Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) director said: “The MUP legislation has not been implemented because of the ongoing legal challenge by global producers, led by the SWA, prioritising it profits over health.

“Twenty two people die every week in Scotland because of alcohol. The Scottish medical profession have to deal with the harms caused by cheap, strong alcohol, sold for as little as 18p per unit, which devastates the lives of individuals, families and communities.

“I hope that the Court of Session will make its decision, in favour of MUP, wisely and swiftly, in the interests of the people, reducing the burden on GPs, hospital and emergency services and the distress and harms caused to Scottish people.”

Public health minister Aileen Campbell said: “The Scottish government remains committed to MUP and this research adds to the wealth of evidence with supports the policy.

“We believe that MUP is the most effective pricing measure to tackle the high-strength, low cost alcohol that causes so much damage in our communities.”