Long awaited plans to introduce a minimum price on alcohol have been published by Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon.
The proposed price, of 45p per unit, will be introduced as an amendment to the Alcohol (Scotland) Bill and is expected to be resisted by opposition parties.
The change in pricing would mean a two-litre bottle of supermarket-brand cider would treble in price from about £1.30 to almost £3.80, while supermarket-brand vodka would go up from about £8 to £11.80.
The Health Secretary said the move would bring “significant” health benefits, including 50 fewer alcohol-related deaths in the first year, 1,200 fewer hospital admissions and savings of £5.5 million savings for the Scottish NHS.
Speaking at a press conference in Edinburgh, Miss Sturgeon said: “For too long, too many Scots have been drinking themselves into an early grave.
“It is no coincidence that as the affordability of alcohol has plummeted in recent decades, alcohol-related deaths, disease, crime and disorder have spiralled.”
Last week The Alcohol Commission, which has links to the Scottish Labour Party, rejected minimum pricing and instead called for a UK-wide ‘floor price’ on alcohol.
This would mean alcoholic drinks could not be sold for less than their production costs plus tax.
Among other recommendations the Commission said booze companies should stop sponsoring sporting events and proposed that council and Government meetings should be alcohol-free.
The Scottish Daily Mail recently reported on a YouGov poll in which 40 per cent of respondents said they were in favour of introducing minimum pricing to tackle binge drinking. The poll found 47 per cent were opposed to the measure.
It also said 76 per cent of those questioned in the UK-wide survey believed a minimum price would not affect how much alcohol they consumed.
In June MSPs voted against the inclusion of plans for minimum pricing in the Alcohol (Scotland) Bill.
In January a study from the University of York found that alcohol abuse costs every Scottish adult around £900 per year.
The study also estimated the total burden to Scotland’s public purse to be around £3.56 billion a year.