The UK Supreme Court has endorsed the Scottish government’s Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act of 2012, after a challenge to its legality by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).
The act places a minimum unit price on the sale of alcohol in Scotland, with the aim of curbing unhealthy consumption.
The SWA, with agreement from the European drinks industry, argued that the approach of minimum pricing breached free trade law and open borders regulations. It launched a number of appeals to ultimately bring the case to the UK Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court judges ruled in favour of the original act, stating that minimum pricing is “a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”.
SWA chief executive Karen Betts said of the decision: “We accept the Supreme Court’s ruling on minimum unit pricing of alcohol in Scotland.”
A report by Neilsen in November of 2016 estimated that at least 50% of the alcohol sold in Scotland doesn’t meet the minimum unit price, which is likely to be 50p. This could result in large changes in the country to the sale of alcohol.
Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the news on twitter, saying she was ‘absolutely delighted’ with the judges’ ruling and calling the decision a ‘move to improve public health’.
Industry bodies in Ireland will be paying attention to the decision, given the ruling could have an influence on policy here in the future, as well as in the EU.
The decision will result in Scotland becoming the first country in the world to introduce minimum alcohol pricing.
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