Whisky bosses launch minimum pricing legal challenge

19th July, 2012 by Martin Crummy

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) is to challenge legislation on a minimum price for alcohol in Scotland.

The SWA said it had lodged a formal complaint to the European Commission over the legislation and will also seek a judicial review of minimum unit pricing for alcohol in the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

It says the SNP government’s flagship plans are “misguided” and will not reduce the number of hazardous drinkers in Scotland.

But the Scottish government believes its reforms, which will set a 50p minimum price for a unit of alcohol, are lawful, and has urged the alcohol industry to respect the will of the Scottish parliament.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said, “It is a policy that also has growing support across the UK and internationally. Therefore, while we acknowledge their right to do so, we regret the decision of the SWA to challenge minimum pricing in the courts.

“The Scottish government believes that minimum pricing will save lives and reduce the harm caused by alcohol misuse. It is a targeted policy and will not penalise those who drink responsibly.”

Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: “We agree that Scotland must address the harmful use of alcohol, but policy needs to be targeted on the problem. Some 30% of those who drink, consume 80% of the alcohol sold.

“Despite warnings that minimum pricing of alcohol would be illegal, the Scottish Government has pressed ahead with its ill-targeted policy and misguided legislation. The Scotch Whisky industry is left with no option but to oppose the legislation in Europe and through the Scottish Courts.”

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