Minimum pricing better than tax?

MINIMUM unit pricing or alcohol-content taxation would reduce inequalities in health more than increasing alcohol duty under the current tax system or increasing VAT on alcohol, a new report has claimed.
The Sheffield University Alcohol Research Group report appears to support the Scottish Government’s policy of minimum unit pricing, after the European Court of Justice ruled it may be unlawful if other methods like tax could be used.
The research, published last month suggested both minimum pricing and a tax based on alcohol strength would have large impacts on harmful drinking across all socioeconomic groups while having minimal effects on those drinking in moderation.
But the Scotch Whisky Association, which has challenged Scottish Parliamentary legislation in Scottish and European courts continues to oppose MUP.
David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: “The ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union was clear that minimum unit pricing of alcohol is illegal if there are other less trade restrictive measures available that can achieve the same aims. The court made it clear that it believes taxation is such an alternative, which the Sheffield research confirms when looking at different tax options.
“In Scotland, measures already in place to tackle misuse seem to be working. Alcohol-related death rates, including deaths from alcoholic liver disease, have declined 32% from a peak in 2003.”