23 December 2015: Commenting on today’s ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on minimum unit pricing, Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance said:
The AHA welcome the confirmation by the European Court of Justice that Scotland can use minimum unit pricing to reduce high levels of alcohol harm in Scotland provided it is proven to be more effective than taxation while being less restrictive on trade.
The case for minimum unit pricing has always been based on the fact that it achieves what taxation cannot when it comes to reducing the harm caused by alcohol. Minimum unit pricing is a targeted measure which would tackle the cheap, high-strength alcohol; the strongest products would be less affordable to young people and the heaviest drinkers. Importantly, moderate drinkers would not be penalised, with the price of the majority of alcohol on our shelves and in our pubs remaining unaffected.
The ECJ ruling states that it is ultimately for the national court to decide. The priority is now for the Scottish courts to gather the evidence that concludes this case and enables the Scottish Parliament to move forward in its efforts to introduce minimum unit pricing as the evidence-based, public health policy that will reduce hospital admissions, cut crime and save lives.
The Scottish Government has been committed to a minimum unit price for alcohol in order to tackle the rising number of alcohol-related deaths in Scotland. The Scottish Whisky Association is deliberately and cynically trying to sacrifice wellbeing in favour of profit by challenging the elected government’s plans to improve the health of its population.