Minimum unit pricing for alcohol: Everything you need to know

Alcohol packaging should carry health warnings in the same way as tobacco the Scottish government has been told

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".

"Our action is bold and it is courageous, and shows once again that we are leading the way in introducing innovative solutions to public health challenges".

Some campaigners are calling for similar legislation to be introduced in England - with fears that many lives could be lost as a result of alcohol, and that the NHS will be footing a bill worth millions.

Due to the laws "sunset clause", the Scottish Parliament will review the legislation in five years time to decide whether it should continue.

Scotland's government has set up a bottom limit for pricing alcohol content.

On average, 22 Scots die every week from alcohol-related causes and the change is specifically created to target cheap booze with a high alcohol content.

Scotland introduced a minimum price per unit of pure alcohol on Tuesday. Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood said: "As a nation we drink 40 per cent more than the low risk drinking guidelines of 14 units per week for men and women". Alcohol misuse costs Scotland £3.6 billion each year - that's £900 for every adult in the country.

The new legislation, which was passed through by MSPs in Holyrood comes into effect today - setting the minimum price per unit of alcohol at 50p.

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"We remain convinced there are more appropriate, proportionate and effective responses to tackle harmful use of beer, wine and spirits drinks".

"This is an important milestone for Scotland, and many other parts of the world will now be watching the implementation of minimum unit pricing with great interest".

He said: "Minimum Unit Pricing has been a very complex and costly measure to introduce".

Industry experts have warned the new rules will mean drinkers may cross the border in search of cheaper alcohol.

Minimum unit pricing, or MUP, simply sets a floor price for a unit of alcohol, meaning it can not legally be sold for less than that.

"We are delighted to see the Scottish Government leading the way with such progressive and responsible public health policy, and to see the other devolved national administrations in Wales and Northern Ireland progressing their own plans for MUP".

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has found that heavy drinkers do buy cheaper alcohol, but they also respond less strongly to price increases.

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