Scotland has become the first country in the world to implement minimum unit pricing for alcohol.
New legislation brought into force sets a minimum 50 pence per unit price to tackle the damage caused by cheap, high strength alcohol.
The government says research shows that the move is expected to save 392 lives in the first five years of implementation.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I am extremely proud that the eyes of the world will once again be on Scotland with the introduction of this legislation.
“Our action is bold and it is brave, and shows once again that we are leading the way in introducing innovative solutions to public health challenges.
“It’s no secret that Scotland has a troubled relationship with alcohol. There are, on average, 22 alcohol-specific deaths every week in Scotland, and 697 hospital admissions and behind every one of these statistics is a person, a family, and a community badly affected by alcohol misuse.
“Given the clear and proven link between consumption and harm, minimum unit pricing is the most effective and efficient way to tackle the cheap, high strength alcohol that causes so much damage to so many families.”
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “We know we need to act now to change people’s attitudes towards alcohol and I am confident that, with the introduction of minimum unit pricing, we are moving in the right direction. Alcohol misuse costs Scotland £3.6 billion each year – that’s £900 for every adult in the country.
“Scotland has the highest rate of alcohol-related deaths in the UK – from today, I hope we will see that change.”
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. Prior to the implementation of minimum unit pricing, those 14 units could be bought for just £2.52. This is absolutely unacceptable.
“That is where this new legislation comes in, and I am confident that over the first five years of its operation, minimum unit pricing will reduce the number of alcohol-specific deaths by hundreds, and hospital admissions by thousands.”
Holistic Scotland Magazine would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Do you agree with the new legislation, or have an experience to share? Have your say in the comments below, or get in touch with our editor at firstname.lastname@example.org