Scotland is the first in the world to finally enforce a minimum price for alcohol. The law as approved in 2012, but whisky distillers managed to block the legislation up until now.
The minimum will probably be 0.5 pounds (56 cents) per 10 milliliters of alcohol. This means a bottle of wine will cost at least 5.3 euro and a beer of 0.5 liters will cost at least 1 euro. Strong cider (21 cent per unit) and vodka (42 cents per unit) are currently still priced below that threshold in supermarkets, but will have to increase their prices immediately. Not much will change in the hospitality industry, because those prices are often already higher than the minimum price.
Scottish parliament already approved the price in 2012, but whisky distillers felt this was contrary to European legislation and current trade agreements. Backed by the entire European drinks industry, it went to court, but the British Supreme Court has now placed the population’s health above their protests and approved the minimum price. According to an alcohol specialist, the minimum price will lower annual alcohol-related deaths by 120 and hospitals will see a decrease of 2,000 hospitalizations every year.
Other countries may quickly follow Scotland’s example, because Wales and Ireland are contemplating similar legislation. The pressure in England is also growing to do something similar. That would be good news for Scottish entrepreneurs, because retailers in the border areas fear plenty of customers will head to England to buy their alcohol.
It is no coincidence that the United Kingdom is the first to enforce a minimum price. Alcohol abuse is much higher here than in the rest of Europe and it has been trying to lower alcohol usage for quite some time. Scottish alcohol abuse is even worse when compared to the rest of the United Kingdom. Some interest groups believe the poorer section of the population will be hit by the new legislation, but research also shows that in the country’s most deprived areas, five times as many people die of alcohol-related problems.