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Legal challenge to minimum alcohol pricing scheduled

15th January 2013

The Court of Session in Edinburgh has a case in session at present about the introduction of a minimum price for alcohol.

wineglasses

A number of alcohol organisations, including the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), are challenging the legislation by saying minimum prices are a breach of European Union laws.

Aidan O'Neill QC, representing the SWA, said the new prices would affect the poorest drinkers.

He referred to data which showed detrimental alcohol abuse was more likely to be found in the wealthiest drinkers, not the poorest ones.

Mr O'Neill said: "What one can draw from that is that hazardous and harmful drinkers are more likely to be found in the rich, rather than among the poor, and the rich, by definition, have more disposable income.

"Therefore a pricing measure which targets cheap alcohol is one...that can be avoided by the rich. If you target hazardous and harmful drinkers then a pricing measure which prices up cheap alcohol and only cheap alcohol is not one which in fact is going to make that target, because it can be avoided because the rich have more money and they can afford the pricing increase."

In May 2012, the Scottish government passed The Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012 as part of a strategy to decrease alcohol abuse.

Although the bill was given royal approval in June, ministers decided not to bring the bill into effect until the Court made its ruling.

 

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