Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012

The Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012 is an Act of the Scottish Parliament, which introduces a statutory minimum price for alcohol, initially 50p per unit, as an element in the programme to counter alcohol problems.

Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012
Act of the Scottish Parliament
Long titleAn Act of the Scottish Parliament to make provision about the price at which alcohol may be sold from licensed premises; and for connected purposes.
Introduced by Nicola Sturgeon MSP
Territorial extent Scotland
Royal assent29 June 2012
Commencement1 May 2018
Status: Current legislation
Text of statute as originally enacted

The Act was passed with the support of the Scottish National Party, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens. The opposition, Scottish Labour, refused to support the legislation because the Act failed to claw back an estimated £125m windfall profit from alcohol retailers.[1] The Labour MSP Malcolm Chisholm, the former Minister for Health and Community Care, disobeyed his party's whip and supported the government.

Legal challengeEdit

A legal challenge to the minimum pricing legislation failed at the Court of Session. The Scotch Whisky Association, the Confédération Européenne des Producteurs de Spiritueux and the Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins appealed the judgement. The act was delayed, with a legal challenge by the Scotch Whisky Association being referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union by the Court of Session.[2]

The decision of the court, delivered in December 2015, was that such legislation would only be lawful if alternative policies such as higher taxes would not be effective in protecting public health. Scottish judges would be required to consider evidence on this point.[3][4]

On 15 November 2017, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom unanimously rejected the Scotch Whisky Association's case, ending the legal battle, arguing that minimum pricing was a "proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim".[5]

The act came into effect on 1 May 2018.[6]


Research by Newcastle University published in May 2021 found that alcohol sales dropped by 7.7% in Scotland following the introduction of a minimum price, when compared to north-east England.[7]

A study published in 2021 found reductions in overall purchases of alcohol, largely restricted to households that bought the most alcohol, which continued into 2020.[8]

Similar legislation was implemented in Wales in March 2020 with the Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Act 2018. [9]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Scottish minimum alcohol pricing passed by parliament". Glasgow: BBC Scotland. 24 May 2012. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  2. ^ "Minimum alcohol policy referred to European court". BBC News Online. 30 April 2014. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  3. ^ "Court sets conditions on Scotland's minimum alcohol price". Financial Times. 23 December 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  4. ^ Scotch Whisky Association and Others v The Lord Advocate and The Advocate General for Scotland, ECLI:EU:C:2015:845 (ECJ 23 December 2015).
  5. ^ "Supreme Court backs Scottish minimum alcohol pricing". BBC News Online. 15 November 2017. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  6. ^ "Scotland calls time on cheap booze". BBC News. 1 May 2018. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  7. ^ "Minimum unit alcohol price has 'lasting impact'". BBC News. 29 May 2021. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  8. ^ "Impact of minimum unit pricing on alcohol purchases in Scotland and Wales: controlled interrupted time series analyses". Lancet Public Health. 1 August 2021. Retrieved 6 September 2021.
  9. ^ "Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol: summary guidance". Retrieved 28 December 2021.

External linksEdit