By Ian Quinn
The BMA has thrown its weight behind plans in Scotland to introduce a minimum price for alcohol.
The moves, launched by the Scottish Government this week, would set a figure of at least 45 pence per unit.
Dr Brian Keighley, chair of BMA Scotland, said: ‘Unlike suggested alternatives coming forward from Labour and the Conservatives, minimum pricing will have an immediate effect in tackling alcohol misuse in Scotland.’
‘By setting the price at 45 pence, it is estimated that 50 deaths will be prevented in the first year. Minimum pricing will also reduce the toll of alcohol on the health service, saving the NHS in excess of £80m.
‘As the price of alcohol has fallen, consumption has increased – so much so that in Scotland we are drinking 25% more than our counterparts in England and Wales. Supermarkets sell high alcohol products such as vodka and ciders at ridiculously cheap prices to entice customers into their store and use aggressive marketing campaigns to encourage higher levels of consumption.’
‘This trend for cheap alcohol and excessive consumption has a human cost.’
Scottish health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said a minimum price was essential to help tackle the high death toll and health burden from alcohol abuse in Scotland.
However, south of the border more than a quarter of drinkers exceed healthy limits every week, researchers have said.
A survey by the North West Public Health Observatory showed illnesses caused by alcohol rose rapidly during the last five years.
The study also showed northerners were the hardest drinkers but that the most alcohol-related crimes were committed in London.
The Scottish Government plans to bring in minimum pricing for alcohol The Scottish Government plans to bring in minimum pricing for alcohol