Minimum unit pricing to go ahead in Scotland after 5 year legal battle

MUP is a more effective means of reducing socioeconomic inequalities in health than taxation ( Colin Angus‏ @VictimOfMaths)

From Alcohol Policy UK today:

Today the UK Supreme Court delivered the final verdict on Scotland’s long running legal challenge to introducing Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP). The Scottish Government first passed legislaton in 2012 but a number of industry bodies spearheaded by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) forced a series of challenges under EU which some public health figures have described as ‘delaying tactics’.

The legal challenge rested on the argument that MUP contravened EU competition law, arguing instead that taxation would be a more appropriate means of achieving its aims. However the Supreme Court disagreed stating health objectives and the free market were “two incomparable values” and declaring MUP a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”. The court also rejected the appeal’s claim that the Scottish Government should have committed to going further in assessing market impact as unreasonable, acknowledging its commitments to evaluating the impacts and the five year sunset clause. 

Public health groups and academics involved in MUP took to Twitter to express relief and comment on the judgement and next steps. The SWA have issued a brief statement on the decision whilst a Spectator article by veteran ‘anti-nanny state’ commentator Christopher Snowden says MUP ‘won’t end alcoholism’. However James Nicholls suggested this was a ‘straw man’ argument and has written a response to the ruling outlining MUPs aims and key considerations. The news has also been covered by the BBC, Telegraph, The Scotsman and Guardian, with further coverage and comment likely throughout the week.

Absolutely delighted that minimum pricing has been upheld by the Supreme Court. This has been a long road – and no doubt the policy will continue to have its critics – but it is a bold and necessary move to improve public health.

— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) November 15, 2017

Where next?

The Scottish Government will no doubt hope to see MUP come into effect as soon as possible; indeed the likely impact (see latest Sheffield modelling here) of the 50 pence per unit floor price will be significantly lower than had it been introduced in 2012, though its level can be addressed as part of the legislation. Wales and Ireland will also be welcoming the ruling having taken their own legislative steps to introduce MUP.

As for England, further pressure will no doubt be placed on the Westminster Government who, after David Cameron’s infamous 2012 u-turn, have committed only to monitoring Scotland’s proceedings. Watch this space.

Absolutely bloody brilliant news!!!

Edited to add:

Scottish Government minimum pricing consultation & evaluation details

6 thoughts on “Minimum unit pricing to go ahead in Scotland after 5 year legal battle

    1. I believe it’s the lobbying of the industries that stops a country dealing with an issue Wendy xx

  1. Ooh, did I tell you about the ‘Sick of smoking’ campaing running in The Netherlands: several private people filing a law case against the tobacco industry for selling products that make people sick and die. The organisation has an English website too:
    https://sickofsmoking.nl/en/

    Funny enough they say that ‘alcohol is totally different’ but actually I assume they do that not to make the case too big and not to scare people off. Also, the tobacco industry has falsified data about the amount of nicotine / tar getting into the bloodstream and that will count in the law suit. While I am not sure if there are such issues in the alcohol industry.

    Hope it is of interest to you. I am curious as to how it evolves. 🙂 I wish these tobacco people would just cut their losses and quit producing.

    xx, Feeling

    1. Thanks for letting me know Feeling – and keep me posted on the outcome of the lawsuit! xx

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