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Scottish parliament prepares for minimum pricing legal challenge

The Scottish Parliament is gearing up for a legal battle over its controversial plans to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol.

Responding to a question from Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon told a Holyrood committee that it was ‘almost certain’ that the plans will be challenged in the Scottish courts.

‘Any piece of legislation that this parliament passes is potentially subject to legal challenge,’ she said.

‘I work on the basis there will be a legal challenge. My job is to make sure that we have legislation that can meet that challenge, and I am confident that it can.’

Plans to introduce minimum pricing in Scotland, which are designed to tackle the country’s alcohol-related health and social issues, have been described as ineffective and probably illegal by the Scotch Whisky Association.

They also believe the policy is ‘misguided’ when alcohol-related health problems and deaths are already falling in Scotland.

Meanwhile, a new survey suggests that the number of Scottish teenagers who have consumed alcohol has declined in the past couple of years.

According to the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey, conducted in 2010, 44% of 13-year-olds said they have consumed alcohol at least once, compared to 52% in 2008.

For 15-year-olds, the figure was 77% – down from 82% – but there was increase in the numbers who had had a drink in the past week.

Written by Richard Woodard

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