A minimum price for a unit of alcohol came one step closer today with the publication of the Stage 1 report on the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Bill by the Health and Sport Committee.
A reduction in harmful drinkers’ consumption and the beneficial impact on public health, crime, public services, productivity and the economy were all cited by supporters of the Bill.
While a majority of the committee believe the evidence received was compelling and overwhelming, some members remain sceptical about the efficacy of minimum pricing and believe a universal approach may penalise moderate drinkers and those in lower income groups.
Committee Convener Duncan McNeil MSP said: “Alcohol misuse is clearly one of Scotland’s biggest challenges in terms of our nation’s health.
"The committee recognised that this Bill represents one element in a range of measures to reduce Scotland’s alcohol consumption and we look forward to the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Cities Strategy announcing the level at which the minimum price is to be set by the start of Stage 3 of the Bill.”
Committee Deputy Convener Bob Doris MSP said: "The blight of harmful alcohol consumption has negatively impacted upon Scotland’s health, crime and economy for too long.
"International research and a range of health and economic experts together with the licensing trade all support this Bill which is a major step towards addressing Scotland’s relationship with alcohol.”
Health and Sport Committee on Twitter
The report also marks a first for the Scottish Parliament with the Health and Sport Committee becoming the first committee to have its own Twitter account – which can be followed on @SP_HealthSport.
The committee will use Twitter to update followers on the latest committee news, updates, reports and news releases.
The Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Bill was introduced by Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Cities Strategy on 31 October 2011.
The Stage 1 Debate on the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Bill is expected to be on Wednesday 14 March.
- Picture © Alistair Forrester Shankie/iStockphoto