Reducing harm caused by alcohol


Minimum pricing - European court ruling

In September, the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) stated that minimum unit pricing is not precluded by EU law and can be implemented if it is shown to be the most effective public health measure available.

Today, the European Court of Justice has issued a similar ruling and it will now be up to the Scottish Court of Session to decide if minimum pricing is more effective than taxation in protecting health.

Commenting on today's judgement, Alison Douglas, Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said:

"The ECJ has confirmed that Scotland can use minimum unit pricing to reduce our high levels of alcohol harm, provided it is more effective than taxation.  Alcohol taxes are limited in their ability to raise the price of the cheapest alcohol to a level that will actually reduce harm. Whereas, minimum pricing is a targeted measure which will make the cheapest, strongest products less affordable to heavy drinkers who are most at risk of harming themselves and others. Moderate drinkers will barely notice any difference to the price they pay.

"Minimum pricing will reduce hospital admissions, cut crime and save lives. That’s why it has wide support from government, health professionals, the police and children’s charities. Alcohol sales and deaths rose in Scotland again last year, underlining the urgent need to get minimum pricing in place.

"In taking legal action against the Scottish Government, the Scotch Whisky Association has blocked the democratic will of the Scottish Parliament and sacrificed public health to protect their members’ profits."