The Scottish Government has passed the Alcohol Minimum Pricing Bill, meaning a 50 pence minimum unit price (MUP) could be in place north of the border by April next year. The Bill requires Royal Assent and still faces the threat of potential legal challenges as warned of by sections of the alcohol industry.
A 50 pence MUP would set a minimum floor price for an average strength bottle of wine at £4.69, vodka at £13.13 a bottle (70cl) and a standard four-pack of lager would need to cost at least £3.52. The Bill sets a minimum price for a unit of alcohol as a condition of licence.
However most drinks would be unaffected, especially those sold in pubs and restaurants. The minimum price would not be raised for at least two years and is reported to include a "sunset clause". The move is expected to save lives and reduce crime based on evidence linking price and consumption and modelling work by the University of Sheffield.
Irish health minister announces ban on alcohol sports sponsorship
Roisin Shortfall, Irish Minister of State for Health, has announced that alcohol sponsorship of sports will soon end. The announcement was prompted by calls from Fianna Fail to address alcohol issues in the wake of a worrying report on young people's mental health in Ireland.
Recent research by Headstrong/UCD found that young people who drink excessively were at risk of depression, severe anxiety and stress. The survey found that 38% of 12-25 year olds had problem or harmful drinking, and 7% showed signs of dependence. There was also a particular risk of suicide with young people who drank excessively.
Ms Shortfall said emphatically that there was "no room for ambivalence" on the issue. She said that although currently there were still contractual agreements in place, she would seek to phase out alcohol sports sponsorship as soon as possible.
The full recommendations of the National Substance Misuse Steering Group include a ban on all alcohol sponsorship of sporting activities and large outdoor events, outdoor advertising of alcohol, higher excise duties on some alcohol products and the introduction of minimum pricing.