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Trade bodies slam Scottish minimum pricing plans

Published:  01 November, 2011

Minimum price plans will punish responsible drinkers, won't address alcohol misuse, is probably illegal and will damage one of Scotland's key industries, say trade bodies as the Scottish government publishes its Alcohol Bill.

The figure has not yet been published; 45p was initially suggested, but it is expected to be around 50p or above by the time it is published in the new year.

Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, called the move "misguided". "The Scotch Whisky industry agrees that Scotland's drinking culture has to change. Minimum pricing is the wrong policy option. It will not achieve the objective of a more healthy, positive and responsible attitude to alcohol," he said.

"Claims that Scotch Whisky as a 'premium product' has nothing to fear from minimum pricing are misplaced. Within Scotland less affluent consumers who buy own-label Scotch Whisky will be hit, while the knock-on impact of copycat trade barriers overseas could lead to enormous damage in the industry's exports markets.

"Only last week the UK Government confirmed that minimum pricing is probably illegal. A legal alternative would be to work with the UK Government on a UK basis to remove tax discrimination between different drinks and to introduce a 'floor price' for alcohol based on the revised duty rates and VAT."

Jeremy Beadles, chief exectuive of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, said: "As millions of families face the toughest economic conditions for a generation the Scottish Government is determined to press ahead with legislation that will punish the vast majority of responsible consumers with higher prices.

"Yet there is no evidence minimum pricing will address the problem of alcohol misuse and the most recent Government figures show alcohol consumption per capita fell in Scotland last year.

"The Scottish Parliament should insist on its right to review the policy and its impact on cross-border shopping, internet sales of alcohol and any evidence of illegal trade of alcohol in Scotland."