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Alcohol harms in the spotlight


Balance welcomes Scottish Court ruling on minimum unit pricing

Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, has welcomed today’s ruling by the Scottish Court of Session in favour of the introduction of a minimum unit price. 
Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, said: “Today’s ruling in favour of a minimum unit price (MUP) by the Scottish Courts is a victory for democracy and for some of the most vulnerable people in society. We hope to see the swift introduction of the policy, which will help to reduce the devastating harms of cheap alcohol. 
“Now is time for action, putting people’s health and wellbeing above the commercial interests of the alcohol industry. We applaud the Scottish Government for showing such dedication to a policy which will make a real difference to people’s lives. We now hope the UK Government will follow suit and bring in a minimum unit price in England and Wales.
“In the North East of England, we’re facing some of the biggest problems with alcohol in the country, with some of the highest rates of alcohol-related hospital admissions and around 200,000 alcohol-related crimes every year. Our recent price report found alcohol on sale in the region for as little as 18 per unit, with 3 litre bottles of white cider available for under £4, containing the same level of alcohol as 22 shots of vodka and typically drunk by young people and dependent drinkers. 
“Minimum unit price is a targeted, evidence-based measure only affecting the price of the cheapest alcohol, which causes some of the biggest harms. We also know it works. In British Columbia in Canada, deaths from alcohol fell by a third after the minimum price there was increased by 10 per cent. Evidence also shows a MUP would barely affect moderate drinkers and leave pub prices untouched, but it would make our system much fairer and address some of the serious problems we’re facing. 
“We know the introduction of a MUP is strongly supported by people in the North East. After making its commitment to improve life chances for everyone, we hope the Government will move to implement a MUP in England and Wales and help to tackle alcohol misuse so sorely felt by families and communities around the country.”