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Opposition parties block Scottish Government plan to tackle alcohol abuse

Scotland's Health Secretary blames "party politics" for failure to pass Government's proposal for minimum price on alcohol.

Scotland's Health Secretary blames "party politics" for failure to pass Government's proposal for minimum price on alcohol.

The Government's proposal for minimum pricing had been backed by British Medical Association, Scotland's health boards, the police, alcohol awareness groups, charities, and some sections of the trade.

However, the plan was blocked on September 22nd 2010 by the opposition parties - Labour, Liberal-Democrats, and Conservatives.

Labour's Shadow Secretary for Health, Jackie Baillie, said: "This policy is effectively a tax on the poor paid directly to the shareholders of the big supermarkets."

The Conservative's Health Spokeswoman, Mary Scanlon, told: "The most effective method is to target problem drinks with extra tax and duty on a UK-wide basis."

The plan for a minimum price on alcohol was one of the Scottish National Party's flagship policies for the current parliament.

Inspired by measures already in place in Scandinavia, the proposal was central to the Government's plan to tackle Scotland's drinking culture.

Nicola Sturgeon, the Government's Health Secretary, said that setting a minimum price of 45p per unit of alcohol would mean 1,200 fewer hospital admissions, £5.5m saved in healthcare costs, 400 fewer violent crimes, 50 fewer deaths, and nearly 23,000 fewer days absent from work in the first year.

The Health Secretary told opposition parties: "The committee will be sending a clear message to the people of Scotland that party politics is more important than public health."

"I find it disheartening that some colleagues feel we can't be the first to try a new approach, that we must stand back and wait for someone else to pursue an action before doing something ourselves", told Ms Sturgeon.

Alcohol misuse costs Scottish taxpayers around £3.56 billion per year, according to an independent study which looked at the impact across the NHS, police, social services, the economy and on families.

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