RSPH has welcomed the judgement from the UK Supreme Court that minimum unit pricing (MUP) on alcohol is legal. Legislation to introduce MUP passed through the Scottish Parliament without opposition in 2012, and can now be implemented by the Scottish Government as a result of this landmark ruling.

The Supreme Court’s decision, which brings to an end a string of legal challenges from the alcohol industry lasting five years, means that Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are now clear to progress with their own plans for MUP.

The new measures will ensure that no product is sold for less than a ‘floor price’ of alcohol, which is proposed to be 50p per unit of alcohol in Scotland. This policy would have minimal to no effect on the finances and drinking habits of the majority of drinkers, but by raising the price of the cheapest alcohol will reduce problem drinking among the most vulnerable in our society.

Evidence indicates 80% of lives saved through MUP would come from the lowest income groups, as it effectively targets the groups who we know our most susceptible to alcohol-related harm.

Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive, RSPH, said: “This ruling represents a great achievement for the public’s health, and will at last enable the Scottish Government to end the irresponsible sale of cut-price alcohol, which fuels health inequalities not just in Scotland but across the UK.

“Tragically, while the Scotch Whisky Association and others have spent half a decade fighting this legislation in the courts, many families and individuals have needlessly suffered through the pain and distress of alcohol-related disease and harm.   

“There is robust international evidence that shows the effectiveness of MUP in protecting the most vulnerable in society. We urge the English government to reconsider its scrapping of plans to introduce MUP back in 2013, and urgently legislate in favour of it so that England doesn’t get left behind.”