Taking action on alcohol misuse: what you need to know

The UK Supreme Court has unanimously approved Scottish Government plans to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol. This reaffirms the decision of the Court of Session, the highest court in Scotland.


Here’s what you need to know.

The Supreme Court decision will now allow allow this life-saving measure to be introduced.


The policy was passed unopposed in the Scottish Parliament more than four years ago and is backed by public health professionals, the police and alcohol charities.

Minimum Unit Pricing could lead to 121 fewer deaths due to alcohol misuse every year after 20 years.

Alcohol misuse causes 22 deaths in Scotland every single week. Research conducted by the University of Sheffield has found that a Minimum Unit Price of 50p would mean about 120 fewer deaths and 2,000 fewer hospital admissions per year by year twenty of the policy.

Minimum Unit Pricing is part of a package of measures we have taken to address Scotland’s relationship with alcohol.

In government the SNP has taken action to reduce consumption by banning multi-buy discounts and irresponsible drinks promotions. We’ve also invested in prevention, treatment and support services. And we’ve introduced a stricter drink drive limit too.


We will also now invest an additional £20 million in alcohol and drug treatment and support services.


Scotland has also received the European Reducing Alcohol Harm award in recognition of our action on alcohol misuse.


The policy has received support from across Europe.

Legislation on Minimum Unit Pricing is being taken forward in the Republic of Ireland and Wales.


When the policy was considered by the European Court of Justice, the court received supporting statements from Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, and Norway. Ireland has proposed the introduction of the policy too.