Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris must now urgently progress the Public Health Alcohol Bill
Today, the Supreme Court in London, ruled that Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) of alcoholic drinks is lawful in Scotland. Rejecting the appeal by the Scotch Whiskey Association (SWA), spirits EUROPE and Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins (CEEV), the Supreme Court found that MUP is compatible with European Union law.
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that MUP legislation did not breach EU law, and that floor pricing constituted a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”.
“We welcome the decision on minimum unit pricing for Scotland today. It represents a great victory for the public’s health. Minimum unit pricing will save lives, reduce hospital admissions and cut crime. It is shameful that so many lives have been lost and harmed over the past 5 years while this decision was challenged by the alcohol industry.” said Prof. Frank Murray, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance Ireland. “We congratulate the Scottish Government on seeing MUP through the courts and standing up to parts of alcohol industry which put profit before people’s health.
“This decision has implications far beyond Scotland. Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are now clear to progress their own plans for minimum unit pricing that are contained within the Public Health Alcohol bill. Today I call on the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris to urgently progress this legislation, which is overwhelmingly supported by the public and, which can save lives and reduce the pressures on the health services” Prof Murray said.
Despite Members of the Scottish Parliament approving MUP in 2012, a flurry of court challenges by the alcohol industry delayed its implementation.
Min unit pricing is targeted at the cheapest drinks consumed by the heaviest drinkers. The delay in Scotland hasn’t hamstrung other attempts to introduce MUP. In Wales, Public Health Minister Rebecca Evans unveiled a draft law on MUP before the National Assembly last month, and MUP features in Public Health (Alcohol) Bill currently going through the Oireachtas here
The Alcohol Health Alliance was established by Alcohol Action Ireland and the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI), and brings together over 50 NGO’s, Charities and public health advocates and campaigners whose mission is to reduce the harm caused by alcohol.