MUP decision of the UK Supreme Court represents a significant victory for public health

Alcohol Action Ireland welcomes with the decision of the UK Supreme Court – it represents a significant victory for public health


Alcohol Action Ireland today (Wednesday 15 Nov) welcomed the judgement from the UK Supreme Court, unanimously dismissing the appeal of the Scotch Whisky Association and others, that challenged the lawfulness of the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act, 2012.


The Justices of the Court state that the measures proposed do not breach EU law and that minimum pricing of alcohol is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. Furthermore, the Court rejected the alcohol industry’s assertion that excise or tax would be an equally effective way of achieving government’s public health objectives. It recognised that the aim is not ‘that alcohol consumption be eradicated or that its costs should be made prohibitive for drinkers; the aim is to strike at alcohol misuse and over-consumption manifesting themselves in particular in the health and social problems suffered’


Speaking on the landmark judgement, Eunan McKinney, Head of Communications and Advocacy at Alcohol Action Ireland, said:


“We are delighted with the UK Supreme Court’s judgement that minimum unit pricing (MUP) is legal and can be implemented. The decision today represents a significant victory for public health and validates MUP is an important alcohol policy instrument. At this crucial point, it is a welcome boost to Minister Harris and the government as they slowly progress the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.


The measures proposed by Scotland’s government had to withstand many years of delaying tactics by a powerful alcohol industry. In that time many families have needlessly suffered the pain and heartache of losing a loved one. In Ireland we remain vigilant that similar tactics are being deployed in our jurisdiction, as the global reach of the alcohol industry wields its influence on our legislators.


Three people will die tomorrow, and every day thereafter, until commercial interests both On and Off Trade, begin to accept less alcohol must be sold, if as a nation we are to reduce our consumption and so lessen the alcohol related harms to our health and society.”


The Public Health (alcohol) Bill is due to resume at Report Stage to Seanad Éireann in the coming weeks. Alcohol Action Ireland remains hopeful that the Bill can be enacted before the Christmas recess.