The UK Supreme Court has ruled that minimum unit pricing for alcohol, passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2012, can now proceed.
The Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by the Scotch Whisky Association and others, ruling that the proposed minimum unit pricing policy is appropriately targeted, lawful and proportionate.
Before implementing the policy, ministers will now conduct a consultation on the proposed 50p per unit price and refresh the Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) that is required by Parliament.
The Scottish Government anticipates setting the minimum unit price at 50p per unit, subject to the outcome of the consultation and the refreshed BRIA.
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “This is a historic and far-reaching judgment and a landmark moment in our ambition to turn around Scotland’s troubled relationship with alcohol.
“In a ruling of global significance, the UK Supreme Court has unanimously backed our pioneering and life-saving alcohol pricing policy.
“This has been a long journey and in the five years since the Act was passed, alcohol related deaths in Scotland have increased.
“With alcohol available for sale at just 18 pence a unit, that death toll remains unacceptably high.
“Given the clear and proven link between consumption and harm, minimum pricing is the most effective and efficient way to tackle the cheap, high strength alcohol that causes so much damage to so many families.
“So we will proceed with plans to introduce minimum unit pricing as quickly as possible.
“I intend to make a statement to Parliament shortly setting out our next steps, including our preferred implementation timetable and how we will engage with retailers and industry to make this a success.
“The Scotch Whisky Association were within their rights to make this case.
“I am pleased that the case has now been settled decisively by the courts and I know the Scotch Whisky Association will accept the decision.
“The Scottish Government has always supported whisky as a key part of our economy and an icon of Scottish food and drink, and we will continue to work closely with the sector to ensure its economic success.
“We will also work closely on the promotion of safe and responsible alcohol consumption and the smooth implementation of the policy.”
Scotch Whisky Association CEO Karen Betts said: “We accept the Supreme Court’s ruling on minimum unit pricing (MUP) of alcohol in Scotland.
“Looking ahead, the Scotch Whisky industry will continue to work in partnership with the government and the voluntary sector to promote responsible drinking and to tackle alcohol-related harm.
“We will now look to the Scottish and UK Governments to support the industry against the negative effects of trade barriers being raised in overseas markets that discriminate against Scotch Whisky as a consequence of minimum pricing, and to argue for fair competition on our behalf.
“This is vital in order that the jobs and investment the industry provides in Scotland are not damaged. At home, we hope to see an objective assessment of the impact of MUP.”