European statement this week

Court to deliver opinion on minimum price of alcohol

Cheap booze - MailThe European Court of Justice will indicate its view on minimum alcohol pricing this week ahead of a ruling on the issue by the end of the year.

Drinks companies are already divided over the Scottish government’s 2012 legislation which would introduce a minimum unit price of 50p.

The Scotch Whisky Association, representing some of the world’s biggest drinks companies, has mounted a legal challenge on the grounds that it penalises responsible drinkers.

C&C, the Dublin company that owns Tennent’s, the biggest-selling beer in Scotland,  favours minimum pricing.

Recent figures showed that sales of alcohol had risen and the government pointed the finger of blame at supermarkets and off licences for selling drink too cheaply. They sell 72% of all alcohol in Scotland.

Alcohol consumption north of the border also remains significantly higher than the rest of the UK, with the 18% difference in sales almost wholly made up by off-trade units, particularly lower priced vodka.

In 2014, 10.7 litres of pure alcohol were sold per adult in Scotland, equivalent to 20.5 units per adult per week. In 1994 (the data start point) consumption was around 6% less, but then saw a ten year period of rising sales, following by a by a 9% decline between 2009 and 2013.

Alcohol abuse is said to be responsible for 20 deaths a week in Scotland.

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