The SNP team in the European Parliament, Alyn Smith and Ian Hudghton, today welcomed the European Parliament vote in favour of calling for a new alcohol strategy. The European Parliament must now await the response of the Commission.
It is particularly welcome that the resolution “calls on the Member States to carefully consider the appropriateness of introducing national policies aimed at preventing the sale of very cheap alcohol”.
Alyn Smith MEP said:
“I am delighted that this motion passed. It specifically states that the competent authorities in the Member States are best prepared to tackle alcohol abuse. In Scotland that is the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament.
“Minimum unit pricing of alcohol is an effective tool to cut excessive drinking. It has been proven to work in Canada. It is a proportionate, evidence-based policy to cut down on problem drinking – specifically problem drinking – presently before the Court of Justice in Luxembourg after the Scotch Whisky Association challenged it.
“So it is sub-judice but I hope that we can agree that the first step to tackling a problem is to admit that it exists. Sadly in Scotland we do have too many people who drink excessively.
“We are serious about tackling these problems, and minimum unit pricing is an important step within those plans and I do hope there is nothing in EU institutions which will stand in our way.”
Ian Hudghton MEP added:
“A lot of work has already been done by our SNP Scottish Government to tackle the serious levels of alcohol abuse that exist in Scotland. Recent figures from NHS Scotland show that alcohol consumption in Scotland has fallen by the equivalent of 38 million pints of beer a year since 2009.
“There were also a third fewer alcohol-related deaths last year than a decade ago, in addition to a 25% drop in alcohol related hospital admissions since 2007/08. Good though this is, we need to do more and it feels a bit like we are operating with one hand tied behind our back without minimum unit pricing.”
A video of Alyn’s Speech can be found here: