Our opposition to minimum pricing
29 Jun 2012
This is a big day for the SWA. We are challenging the Scottish
Government's legislation on the minimum pricing of alcohol, lodging
a formal complaint with the European Commission in Brussels and
filing a Petition for Judicial Review of the legislation with the
Court of Session in Edinburgh.
We set out what our plans and the reasons for our action at a
packed press conference this morning at our offices in Edinburgh.
Our justification for opposing the legislation is relatively
simple. The Scottish Government's measures contravene EU trading
rules and the European wine market and overstep the competence of
the Scottish Parliament as set out in the devolution settlement.
Additionally, we believe the minimum pricing policy for alcohol
will be ineffective in tackling alcohol harm, will penalise
moderate drinkers with higher prices for alcohol when household
budgets are already under pressure and will harm the Scotch Whisky
industry in our export markets. It is a sad indictment of the
Scottish Government that when it is encouraging us to expand our
exports, as we have been doing to the considerable benefit of the
Scottish and UK economies (Scotch Whisky represents 80% of
Scotland's food and drink exports), it introduces domestic policies
which risk undoing all the work we have done over the last 20 years
to open up export markets for Scotch Whisky. Some 15% of our
exports may be put at risk.
A minimum unit price of 50 pence increases the price of 73% of
all alcohol sold in the off-trade, and affects 85% of Blended
Scotch Whisky in the domestic market. 66% of beer and 80% of wine
prices will also go up. Everyone will pay a lot more for their
drinks than the Scottish Government is willing to admit. But its
own research shows that the number of harmful drinkers will not
We accept that Scotland needs to address alcohol harm and change
attitudes to alcohol and drunkenness in Scotland, but policies need
to be targeted on where the problem lies. Some 30% of those who
drink, drink 80% of the alcohol sold. We should tackle that problem
Read more about our legal actions against minimum pricing in our
press release and other papers on this website.
Gavin Hewitt, chief executive, Scotch Whisky Association