The plans are part of the SNP’s Alcohol Bill, and have gained support from the BMA. Its chairman in Scotland, Dr Brian Keighley said: ‘We are drinking 25% more than our counterparts in England and Wales. Alcohol related illness causes one death every three hours in Scotland, and the healthcare costs are more than £268m.’
Dr Keighley estimates that 50 deaths will be prevented in the first year if minimum pricing is introduced. He added: ‘It will reduce the toll of alcohol on the health service, saving the NHS in excess of £80m.’
A spokesman for the BMA in England said: ‘We have consistently called for a minimum price per unit as part of a raft of measures to tackle alcohol abuse, and would urge the other UK governments to follow the example set by Scotland. There is strong scientific evidence that increasing price reduces rates of alcohol-related problems, particularly among young people.’
The DoH is not planning to introduce minimum unit pricing in England. A spokeswoman said: ‘We will work to stop the below-cost price sale of alcohol. It is not clear that national minimum unit pricing is the best way to achieve this so we need to look at other options.
‘The government is committed to taking tough action to tackle problem drinking, including the price of problem drinks, stopping supermarkets from selling alcohol below cost price and introducing a tougher licensing regime.’
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