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Scots reject minimum price for alcohol

Published:  10 November, 2010

The Scottish Parliament has rejected minimum pricing for alcohol in the final vote which was cast this afternoon.

MSPs voted 76-49 against the 45p per unit policy, which was part of the Alcohol Bill being determined at Holyrood.

Today's decision has been warmly welcomed by drinks firms and Scotch whisky distillers.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has consistently argued that minimum pricing would be illegal and ineffective in addressing misuse, while significantly damaging one of Scotland's key industries.

Gavin Hewitt, SWA chief executive, said: "The Scottish Parliament is to be congratulated. MSPs have looked carefully at the evidence rather than listening to the rhetoric on minimum pricing.
"Now that minimum pricing has been rejected, we call on all parties to come together to build consensus around alternative, more effective, legal tax-based measures to address alcohol misuse. Reform of the UK excise duty system so that all alcohol is taxed on a fair and
responsible basis, according to alcohol content, offers that opportunity."

Managing director of Diageo GB Simon Litherland said: "As we have previously stated, we firmly believed minimum pricing was not an effective solution in tackling alcohol misuse. The debate has clearly moved on and now we can look forward to working collectively with other stakeholders in Scotland and the UK to support targeted interventions which can make a real difference to dealing with the problem of alcohol misuse."

Despite the focus on the controversial minimum pricing policy, the Bill also bans discount deals, such as two-for-one on bottles of wine. In addition it aims to curtail "irresponsible" drinks promotions, restrict alcohol advertising, introduce an age-verification requirement, and a "social responsibility levy" for licensees. This levy would see retailers pay more to fund policing and healthcare arising from alcohol problems.