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Scotland to set minimum alcohol price at 50p

Scottish ministers are taking a tough line on alcohol abuse in Scotland to try and confront alchoholism and binge drinking. With the most radical health policy yet proposed by the Scottish National Party Government, they will set a new minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol. A policy which researchers at The School of Health and Related Research say will cut overall consumption by 5.7%, saving 60 lives in the first year, and 318 a year within a decade. It would most directly affect alcoholics, costing them each an extra £120 a year.

The new minimum price of 50p a unit will push the price of the cheapest bottles of wine to £4.69, while four cans of basic lager will cost at least £3.52. Tesco's own brand basic vodka will rise in price from £8.72 to £13.13, while Tesco own brand basic whisky will now cost 40% more, at £14.

It is the first time minimum pricing has been tried in the European Union, and the policy is expected to be passed overwhelmingly by the Scottish parliament after the Tories and Liberal Democrats swung behind the proposal earlier this year. David Cameron confirmed the UK government will also look at minimum pricing across England and Wales, but he is expected to start with a 40p floor price.

The decision to set a 50p floor price, is expected to face legal challenges in the Scottish and European courts and not surprisingly the decision has not been popular with the Scottish Whisky Association who again warned that minimum pricing could even be illegal, breaching European and global rules on free trade and competition.