Scotland: Minimum pricing rejected

11 November, 2010

The trade has welcomed the Scottish Parliament’s decision to reject minimum pricing. This was the final time in which MSPs could vote to decisively keep minimum pricing out of the Alcohol Bill. The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has consistently argued that minimum pricing would be illegal and ineffective in addressing misuse, whilst significantly damaging one of Scotland’s key industries.

The Association has now called on all parties to work together on alternative UK tax-based measures to address concerns over the pricing of certain drinks.

According to a statement from the SWA, “this can be achieved through early reform of the excise duty system and the introduction of a UK-wide ban on alcohol sales below tax”.

Gavin Hewitt, SWA Chief Executive, said: “The Scottish Parliament is to be congratulated. MSPs have looked carefully at the evidence rather than listening to the rhetoric on minimum pricing.

“Now that minimum pricing has been rejected, we call on all parties to come together to build consensus around alternative, more effective, legal tax-based measures to address alcohol misuse. Reform of the UK excise duty system so that all alcohol is taxed on a fair and responsible basis, according to alcohol content, offers that opportunity.”

A spokesperson from SAB Miller added: "Reducing problem drinking is an important goal for Scottish politicians. [The] rejection of minimum pricing from the Alcohol Bill shows that MSPs have taken to heart the findings of key research, which shows that heavy drinkers would only reduce their consumption by one pint a week if a minimum price of 45p a unit was introduced. To make a genuine impact on Scottish health and society and shift the nation's attitude to alcohol, policymakers need to focus on effective solutions such as the strict enforcement of existing laws to crack down on underage drinking and antisocial behaviour."

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