A minimum unit price for alcohol can proceed in Scotland, the UK Supreme Court has ruled.
The Alcohol Minimum Pricing Scotland Act was originally passed in 2012 but had been appealed by the Scotch Whiskey Association (SWA).
A 50p per unit price would increase the cost of a three-litre bottle of cider at 7.5% ABV strength to £11.25. Iceland is currently selling a three-litre bottle of Frosty Jack’s (7.5% ABV) for £3.59.
Four 440ml cans of 5% strength lager would cost at least £4.40.
The proposed policy was “appropriately targeted, lawful and proportionate,” the Supreme Court said.
Health secretary Shona Robison said she intended to introduce the plans “as quickly as possible.”
“I intend to make a statement to Parliament shortly setting out our next steps, including our preferred implementation timetable and how we will engage with retailers and industry to make this a success,” she added.
Ministers will now consult on the proposed 50p per unit price and refresh the Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment.
Robison added: “This is a historic and far-reaching judgment and a landmark moment in our ambition to turn around Scotland’s troubled relationship with alcohol.
“This has been a long journey and in the five years since the Act was passed, alcohol related deaths in Scotland have increased. With alcohol available for sale at just 18p a unit, that death toll remains unacceptably high.
“Given the clear and proven link between consumption and harm, minimum pricing is the most effective and efficient way to tackle the cheap, high strength alcohol that causes so much damage to so many families.”
More than 51% of alcohol currently sold in the off-trade is less than 50p per unit and in 2016, 17% more alcohol was sold per adult in Scotland than in England & Wales.
The SWA said it accepted the Supreme Court’s ruling. “We will now look to the Scottish and UK governments to support the industry against the negative effects of trade barriers being raised in overseas markets that discriminate against Scotch Whisky as a consequence of minimum pricing and to argue for fair competition on our behalf,” it added.