Scotland has today become the first country in the world to introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol.
It comes six years after the Scottish Government passed the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012, after a growing number of alcohol-related deaths.
The plans to set a minimum price of 50 pence per unit were delayed after a court challenge by the Scotch Whisky Association, but the opposition was quashed by the UK Supreme Court in November last year.
On average, 22 Scots die every week from alcohol-related causes and the change is specifically designed to target cheap booze with a high alcohol content.
Some strong ciders more than doubled in price when the new law came into force this morning.
It is estimated the new law will save 58 lives in its first year and reduce hospital admissions by 1,300.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hailed what she called a “bold” and “brave” law.
She said: “The eyes of the world will very much be on Scotland, not just today, but as the benefits of this policy start to be seen and felt.”
Wales and the Republic of Ireland are also looking to implement minimum pricing and the First Minister said she expected other countries to follow suit before long.
She added: “All of the evidence says that minimum unit pricing will reduce deaths from alcohol-related illnesses, reduce hospital admissions and generally reduce the damage that alcohol misuse does to our society.”
Dr Christine Goodall, of Medics Against Violence, said that more than 80 per cent of assault victims admitted to hospital emergency departments had been drinking, as had their attackers.
By targeting cheap alcohol, she said minimum pricing would discourage youngsters from drinking by making it less affordable.
She added: “We are not aiming to get the whole population to stop drinking but it will have an impact on the people who are currently experiencing the most harm.”
The law has a “sunset clause” within it, meaning it can be repealed after six years if Holyrood decides it has been ineffective.