Lochhead welcomes decision on minimum price for alcohol

THE UK SUPREME COURT decision on Wednesday that the Scottish Government legislation to impose a minimum unit price on alcohol is legal has been welcomed in Moray.

Richard Lochhead MSP said that the law, passed five years ago but held up by legal processes, will now proceed and help improve Scotland’s damaging relationship with alcohol.

The ruling allows the setting of a minimum unit price on alcohol of 50 pence. Minimum unit pricing is supported by academic research, which suggests that the policy will cut alcohol-related deaths and reduce hospital admissions linked to alcohol misuse, which costs Scotland £3.6 billion each year.

Figures published by the National Records of Scotland earlier this year showed there was a slight increase in the number of alcohol related deaths in the Moray Council area in 2016, rising from 22 in 2015 to 24 in 2016.

Commenting, Mr Lochhead said: “This landmark ruling, which allows the Scottish Government to go ahead with setting a minimum unit price on alcohol, is to be warmly welcomed.

“You only have to look at the cost of alcohol misuse to our NHS and justice system every year to see the enormous damage inflicted on society by our unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Locally, in Moray, we sadly saw an increase in the number of alcohol-related deaths last year.

“The impact that alcohol misuse has on families and our communities is huge, and whilst the reasons behind misuse are complex, there is a clear and proven link between consumption and harm, and minimum pricing is the most effective way to tackle the cheap, high strength alcohol that causes so much damage to so many families.

“Cheap alcoholic drinks such as some ciders and vodkas in our local supermarkets are a main source of concern for my constituents. Scotland is the first country in the world to implement a policy like this, and we should be proud of this pioneering approach that will help tackle alcohol harm in communities in Moray and across the country.”