The Scottish health professions are increasing their efforts to challenge the continued opposition by global alcohol producers to the implementation of Scotland's Alcohol Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) policy. On 5th September in Brussels, Scottish and European doctors will make the case for health alongside industry supporters of the policy, including C & C Group (producers of Tennents Lager) and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association.
Legislation to introduce a Minimum Unit Price of 50p was passed without opposition by the Scottish Parliament in May 2012. The legislation has yet to come into force because a consortium of global alcohol producers, fronted by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), Spirits Europe and the Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins (CEEV) is fighting its implementation every step of the way. The fight is now in Europe where, in the latest stage of the legal battle, written opinions from EU member states may be made to the European Court, with the deadline for this being mid-October this year.
Dr Peter Rice, Chair of SHAAP (Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems) said:
"Changes in the price of alcohol are a key determinant in rates of alcohol harm. This vitally important health policy will save Scottish lives and it needs to be implemented as a matter of urgency. In Canada, a 10% increase in average minimum price was associated with a 32% drop in alcohol death rates. MUP is within the competence of the Scottish Government to implement as an appropriate Public Health response to a Health crisis."
Mariann Skar, Secretary General, European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare) said:
"Minimum Unit Price (MUP) is an evidence based intervention to address alcohol related harm in Scotland. This policy will make a difference, and Eurocare are now urging Member States and the Commission to give their support for the implementation of the MUP to protect their citizen's well-being."
Emma Woodford, Interim Secretary General of the European Public Health Alliance added:
"This seminar is a prime example of how industry and advocates can work together to achieve goals aimed at reducing alcohol related harm in Europe. Minimum Unit Pricing can only serve to save lives and EPHA is in full support of this crucial policy being implemented in Scotland."
Eric Carlin, Director of SHAAP (Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems) said:
"We need other member states and the Commission to support or at least not oppose the Scottish policy. MUP is opposed by a consortium of multi-national alcohol producers who, inaccurately, are framing this as a Health v Industry issue. Demonstrating the falseness of this claim, we have speakers from the Scottish alcohol industry who support this policy from an ethical position."
Paul Waterson, Chief Executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association said:
"The SLTA is delighted to be involved in this very important seminar exploring Scotland's innovative Alcohol Policies. We fully support the most inventive of these, Minimum Unit Pricing, and believe it to be a crucial element in trying to change Scotland's uneasy relationship with alcohol."
Dr Katrin Fjeldsted, President of the Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME) commented:
"Alongside the World Health Organisation, the CPME strongly advocates a "health in all policies" approach to prevent disease and improve health. This includes consideration of health effects in trade policies and this is the reason we have supported the Scottish efforts to introduce a Minimum Unit Price for alcohol in Scotland.
This is an opportunity for the European Union to support an innovative health improvement measure, designed for local circumstances, supported by the international evidence and to show that in Europe, health comes first."