The Scottish government has announced that the minimum price for alcohol will be 50p per unit.
The price is the equivalent to the 45p per unit proposed in the previous parliament after taking into account of inflation, said health secretary Nicola Sturgeon. She added that the minimum price would have significant health and social benefits.
The impact of 50p minimum pricing on a four pack of 440ml Tesco Strong dry cider will be a rise of £2.87 from the current cost of £1.80, while Tesco Value vodka, 70cl, will go up by £4.41 to £13.13. A bottle of Silver Rock Chardonnay 750ml will rise by £1.50 to £4.69.
A study carried out by the University of Sheffield estimated that a 50p minimum price would result in 60 fewer deaths and 1,600 fewer hospital admissions in the first year, resulting in £64m in harm reduction savings.
But Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) chief executive John Drummond said the “regressive and disproporionate measure” would punish low income and moderate drinkers and do little to change the harmful drinking habits of those who already buy products well above the minimum unit price.
“Minimum pricing will drive up illicit, cross-border and internet sales to the detriment of indigenous Scottish retailers, whilst any profit arising from increased prices would be more than offset by falling sales,” he added.
“If all of this wasn’t bad enough, the legality of the measure remains uncertain. The fact is, and as experience tells us, this sort of blunt intervention inevitably punishes the retailer, juvenilises the consumer and rarely places any responsibility on the individual.”
The Scottish government recently agreed to a ‘sunset clause’, which means that the minimum pricing policy will be evaluated after five years and ditched a year later if it does not have parliamentary support.
A 40p minimum price is planned for England and Wales.