THE Scottish Liberal Democrats have backed the SNP in their motion to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol.
The Bill, which was published this morning, will introduce a minimum price per unit of alcohol, preventing retailers from selling high strength alcohol products at rock-bottom prices.
Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson Alison McInnes MSP announced the end of the party’s opposition to the Minimum Pricing Bill, branding alcohol abuse “a blight on our society”.
She added: “The introduction of minimum pricing is by no means the silver bullet, eradicating in one quick stroke the problem of alcohol abuse in Scotland.
“I believe that minimum pricing is a positive and confident step towards changing the culture of excessive drinking in Scotland.”
SNP MSP and Vice Convener of the Health Committee Bob Doris is encouraging all parties at Holyrood to support the new legislation, but the Scottish Conservatives still remain unconvinced about the effectiveness of this approach.
Scottish Conservative Health Spokesperson Murdo Fraser MSP claimed that the introduction of minimum pricing would “penalise only responsible drinkers”.
Mr Fraser added: “Scottish Conservatives have consistently opposed blanket minimum pricing as it is an indiscriminate policy that will do little to attack the causes of alcohol abuse in Scotland.
“To move forward we must face the nation’s problems head-on and not shirk away from the serious issue of alcohol misuse.”
The Bill, which could see a 45p per unit minimum price for alcohol despite being defeated in the Parliament last year, already has the support of BMA Scotland chairman Dr Brian Keighley, who emphasised the importance of this debate which “the eyes of the world” would be watching.
Dr Keighley added: “It is simply wrong that alcohol is sold at prices cheaper than fizzy drinks.
“Sensible drinking begins with sensible pricing and I hope that minimum pricing will begin the cultural change we need to reduce the alcohol misuse epidemic in Scotland.”