May 1 (UPI) — Scotland became the first country in the world Tuesday to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol.
The Scottish government passed new legislation to set the minimum price at 68 cents per unit. The move came after a six-year court battle to limit the amount of cheap booze in Scotland, on public health grounds.
Government research shows Scotland has a rate of death from alcohol abuse 54 percent higher than does Britain or Wales. Estimates show nearly 400 lives could be saved in the first five years of the price adjustment.
“Our action is bold and it is brave, and shows once again that we are leading the way in introducing innovative solutions to public health challenges,” First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said. “It’s no secret that Scotland has a troubled relationship with alcohol.”
Scottish lawmakers say the law will make cheap spirits — like popular strong ciders — more expensive.
The British Medical Association applauded the minimum hike, and said Britain “must follow suit urgently.”.
Opponents say, however, those are not the only drinks targeted by the new law.
For example, a two-liter bottle of strong cider costing as little as $3.40 will now cost $10.20. The price of a bottle of vodka will now cost a minimum $17.86, and a bottle of whiskey $19.05.
“It will become clear that minimum pricing is not a targeted measure that will only affect a few strong ciders,” Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said. “Back-of-the-envelope calculations have been used to justify a nationwide rip-off that will raise the cost of living for all but the very rich.”
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