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    Scotland poised to raise minimum alcohol price by 30 per cent

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    The minimum price of alcoholic drinks in Scotland is poised to rise by 30 per cent as ministers in Edinburgh are expected to confirm that the minimum unit price for alcohol will increase from 50p to 65p from early May, six years after Scotland became the first part of the UK to introduce the policy.

    The minimum cost of a standard bottle of whisky in Scotland will be pushed from £14 to £18.20, vodka to £16.90 and a four-pack of basic lager to £4.58. Plans would see the lowest price for a typical pack of four cans of beer rise from £4.40 to £5.72. A bottle of 13 per cent wine would soar from £4.88 to £6.34, while a 700ml bottle of 40 per cent spirits would be at least £18.20, compared with £14 now.

    Willie Rennie, the former Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and its now its economy spokesperson, who has long championed the measure, said he was glad ministers had listened.

    “More than 20 people a week in Scotland die due to alcohol misuse, so we need to take steps to stop alcohol wrecking lives and communities,” he said. “That’s before you even get to the pressure that it imposes on our health and justice systems.”

    The Wine and Spirit Trade Association, meanwhile, is planning to call this week for minimum pricing to be scrapped entirely, arguing that it is an ineffective or unfair way to combat alcohol abuse, and unjustifiable during a cost of living crisis.

    David Richardson, its consumer affairs director, said, “Targeted measures have significantly greater impact without penalising the vast majority who do drink responsibly.”

    Scottish Labour supports the policy but has called for an additional alcohol levy on retailers to tax the unearned profits retailers earn from minimum pricing, with the proceeds passed directly to the NHS and efforts to combat addiction.

    Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, believes the cash could help relieve the additional pressure on the NHS caused by drinking.

    Minimum pricing was first proposed by the Scottish National party in 2008 to combat Scotland’s soaring alcohol-related deaths and binge-drinking, in a move since mirrored by the Welsh government. 

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