By Steve Dellar  |  05-02-2018   News
Photo credit: Odemll | Dreamstime.com

Scotland became the first country in the world to set a minimum price for alcohol per unit as more and more people died due to liver cirrhosis and the consumption of ‘cheap booze’.

The country had in recent years seen an average of 22 alcohol specific deaths and about 700 hospital admissions per week related to heavy drinking. If you take into account the fact that Scotland has a population of 5 million, those are serious numbers.

To put consumption into perspective, Scotland sells 2 or 3 litres of cider in plastic bottles in the same way the US sells coca-cola in supermarkets. The price tag of a 3-liter bottle of Cider is about 3£ or 4$.

<blockquote class="twitter-video" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Minimum unit pricing for alcohol comes into force in Scotland today.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MUP?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MUP</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/minimumunitpricing?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#minimumunitpricing</a> <a href="https://t.co/7RhZf2gulG">pic.twitter.com/7RhZf2gulG</a></p>&mdash; Scottish Government (@scotgov) <a href="https://twitter.com/scotgov/status/991210615065673729?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 1, 2018</a></blockquote>

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And thus, not wanting to become the next Russia (where the population decline is partly due to alcohol consumption), the Scottish government imposed a minimum price per ‘unit of alcohol’. For that 3-liter bottle of cider, the price will thus go up from 3 to 11£.

The biggest rise in prices will be seen on high-strength white cider and cheap own-brand vodka and whisky.

<blockquote class="twitter-video" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">On tonight&#39;s show we speak to <a href="https://twitter.com/NicolaSturgeon?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NicolaSturgeon</a> as Scotland becomes the first county in the world to introduce a minimum price for alcohol. We ask if Scots living near the border could head south to stock up on cheaper booze. <a href="https://t.co/daYLwaFew3">pic.twitter.com/daYLwaFew3</a></p>&mdash; Representing Border (@ITVBorderRB) <a href="https://twitter.com/ITVBorderRB/status/991365674768453632?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 1, 2018</a></blockquote>

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The problem is not so much for the pubs and restaurants as they charge reasonable prices for alcoholic beverages but the home drinking is where the real issue lies. According to charities working on behalf of families struck by alcohol consumption related deaths, some 75% of Scotland's alcohol is bought from supermarkets and shops and consumed at home.

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Health Secretary Shona Robison claimed that the new law would "targets hazardous and harmful drinkers".

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Min alcohol price of 50p per unit in Scotland<br>3 litres strong cider goes up from £3.49 to whopping £11.25<br>Why punish vast majority of sensible drinkers for problems of the few?<br>The vast increases go the retailers and drink makers who will see profits <br>soar<a href="https://t.co/2tgobnawJO">https://t.co/2tgobnawJO</a></p>&mdash; Cllr.Brian Silvester (@CllrBSilvester) <a href="https://twitter.com/CllrBSilvester/status/991205648988868610?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 1, 2018</a></blockquote>

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"This policy is geared towards making sure that by increasing the price, particularly of those products that do the most harm, that we will reduce consumption."

Whereas supermarkets across Scotland will probably see their turnover drop in the first few days, weeks due to the new legislation, many shops over the border in England have already prepared special discount offerings for the Scots who want to stock up on alcohol.

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First Minister Ms Nicola Sturgeon stated: “Scotland’s relationship with the demon drink is a long and troubled one, and the statistics speak for themselves. Alcohol misuse causes around 700 hospital admissions and 22 deaths each week. Behind every one of these statistics is a person, a family, a community struggling with the impact of alcohol abuse.”

Scandinavia has experienced similar issues in the 1970s and 1980s before it also started to increase the prices of alcoholic beverages to tackle problematic consumption. In Oslo for example, you will easily pay 15€ (18$) for a single glass of wine in a restaurant or a bar.

Source:

http://www.heraldscotland.com/opinion/16195467.Herald_View__Day_of_reckoning_for_alcohol_policy/

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