Scottish Methodist Church welcomes alcohol pricing move

This week, Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish Health Secretary, madethe announcement that she plans to start to tackle the alcoholismand binge drinking endemic in parts Scotland by introducing aminimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol. This is even higher andmore wide-ranging than the 45p previously indicated.

Unveiling this radical health policy proposed by the ScottishNational party government in Scotland, she said: "Cheap alcoholcomes at a price and now is the time to tackle the toll thatScotland's unhealthy relationship with alcohol is taking on oursociety. Too many Scots are drinking themselves to death."

The Methodist Church in Scotland, along with many organizationsincluding churches, the health service and police, have for longadvocated minimum pricing as one element in their various campaignsto tackle many people's unhealthy relationship with alcohol. TheMethodist Church has welcomed the lead the Scottish Government istaking in tackling over consumption of alcohol.

"Not only does minimum pricing make alcohol -especially thedamaging low-priced own brand spirits and strong ciders - lessaffordable it send a clear message that the Scottish Governmenttakes the issue seriously," said Dr William Reid, ConnexionalLiaison Officer for the Methodist Church in Scotland. "It alsobuilds on their earlier measures to tackle the promotion ofover-consumption of low priced alcohol."

This is the first time that minimum pricing has been tried in theEuropean Union, and the policy is expected to be passedoverwhelmingly by the Scottish parliament as the Tories and LiberalDemocrats are now behind the proposal after changing their positionearlier this year. However, the Labour Party are less supportivequestioning the effectiveness of minimum pricing and arguing that,if used, it should be raised through duty across the UK.

Labour MSP Dr Richard Simpson has put forward a consultation on abill on a wider range of proposals to tackle issues around alcohol,including measures to educate and promote public health and reducealcohol-related offending through further changes to licensinglaws. For example, restrictions on the retailing and advertising ofalcoholic drinks, obligations on Scottish Ministers to issueguidance and report, and also directing offenders towards treatmentor restricting their access to alcohol.

"Hopefully all parties will come to see these measures arecomplementary and not in competition with each other and allparties will get behind them all," added Dr Reid.

"While the Scottish Parliament is likely to continue to take a leadon these issues many in the Methodist Church pray that similarmeasures will also soon be adopted across the UK."