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Campaigners dismayed by MSPs' rejection of minimum alcohol pricing

Category: England

Published: 10th Nov 2010 17:35:44

Minimum alcohol pricing will not become law in Scotland, after opposition MSPs voted against the measure.

The SNP government had hoped to include minimum pricing in its alcohol bill, which is being debated at Holyrood.

But the measure failed to gain the support of opposition ministers, with Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats claiming that it would penalise responsible drinkers. As a result, the policy was rejected by 76 votes to 49.

The outcome was welcomed by brewer SABMiller, which said that MSPs had "taken to heart the findings of key research which shows that heavy drinkers would only reduce their consumption by one pint a week if a minimum price of 45p a unit was introduced".

A spokeswoman for the company added that policymakers should "focus on effective solutions, such as the strict enforcement of existing laws to crack down on underage drinking and antisocial behaviour".

But a wide range of professionals had backed the concept of minimum pricing and the British Medical Association (BMA) claimed that an opportunity had been missed to drive forward public health policy.

Dr Brian Keighley, chairman of the BMA in Scotland, commented: "All politicians acknowledge that price is a significant factor in the level of alcohol consumption, so it is particularly disappointing that opponents voted down minimum pricing but did not propose any credible alternative.

"I am frustrated and disappointed that the debate on such a serious health issue has been polarised and that many opposition MSPs had made their minds up before even considering the evidence."

Dr Keighley noted that the government had proposed a 'sunset clause' so that the impact of minimum pricing on alcohol abuse could be tested.

"Sadly, now we will never know," he observed, adding: "I hope that this is not the end of the debate on how we tackle the increasing affordability of alcohol, but signals the beginning of a mature, non-partisan approach to address Scotland's relationship with alcohol."

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UK Wired, 2010. Campaigners dismayed by MSPs' rejection of minimum alcohol pricing [Online] (Updated 10th Nov 2010)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/106866/Campaigners-dismayed-by-MSPs-rejection-of-minimum-alcohol-pricing [Accessed 24th Jul 2014]

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