Scottish ministers are retaining their proposed minimum price for alcohol of 50p per unit, in the consultation now running on the legislation to come into force next May.

The way was finally cleared for the new law when the UK Supreme Court ruled last month against objections by the Scotch Whisky Association and others that it was beyond the powers of the Scottish Parliament due to conflict with EU law (click here for report).

Ministers have confirmed the commencement date as 1 May 2018 (click here for report) but are inviting further views on the rate at which the minimum unit price should be set.

The consultation paper gives examples of what the 50p rate would mean in practice:

  • a 700ml bottle of whisky containing 40% alcohol by volume would retail at a minimum of £14;
  • the same quantity of vodka or gin at 37.5% would be at least £13.13, or £18.75 for a one litre bottle;
  • a 750 ml bottle of wine wuld cost at least £4.50 at 12% strength and £4.88 at 13%;
  • four 440ml cans of beer at 5% strength would start at £4.40, but a single 330ml bottle at 4% could sell for 66p;
  • two litres of cider at 5% would cost at least £5; three litres at 7.5% at least £11.

"The drinker that drinks moderately within the low risk drinking guidelines of 14 units a week will see very little difference, if any, in the cost of what alcoholic drinks they buy", the paper states.

"Those most affected will be drinkers that are drinking more than 14 units a week. Some people drink much more than 14 units a week."

Going by the total volume of alcohol bought in 2016, Scots are drinking over 40%n more than the low risk drinking guidelines.

Modelling commissioned by the Scottish Government has estimated that a minimum unit price of 50p would lead in the first
year to 58 fewer alcohol-related deaths, and 1,299 fewer alcohol-related hospital admissions. 

Over a five year period it expects 392 fewer alcohol-related deaths during that period, and 8,254 fewer alcohol-related hospital admissions.

Click here to access the consultation. The closing date for submissions is 26 January 2018.