Scotland is set to become the first country in the world with a minimum price for alcohol sales after the Supreme Court rejected an appeal from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) and other drinks manufacturers, who argued that the policy was “disproportionate” and illegal under European law.
It brings to a close a five-year legal battle over the Scottish Government’s plan to introduce a 50p minimum unit price for alcohol, in a bid to curb harmful drinking of cheap, super strong alcohol.
Lord Mance said “The 2012 Act does not breach EU law. Minimum pricing is a legitimate means of achieving a legitimate aim.”
SWA and spiritsEUROPE and Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins had argued that the policy would fall foul of EU trade laws and its objectives could be achieved by an excise duty or tax increase.
But the Supreme Court said EU law makes provisions for law which “protects human life and health”.
The proposal of a 50p per unit charge means four 440ml cans of five per cent strength lager would cost at least £4.40, a 12 per cent bottle of wine would be at least £4.50 and a 70cl bottle of whisky must cost at least £14.
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