14/05/2012 07:23 BST | Updated 14/05/2012 07:26 BST

Alcohol Price: Scottish Government Seeks Minimum Of 50p Per Unit

The Scottish Government has announced it will seek a minimum pricing of 50p per unit of alcohol.

Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon made the announcement during a visit to Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

The measure is predicted to save 500 lives a year, and will see the price of a standard bottle of wine at 12.5% volume set at a minimum of £4.69.

A 70cl bottle of whisky at 40% will cost no less than £14, while a similar-sized bottle of vodka at 37.5% will be no less than £13.13. A bottle of strong cider at 5.3% will cost no less than £4.67.

Speaking at the infirmary, Sturgeon said: "Cheap alcohol comes at a price and now is the time to tackle the toll that Scotland's unhealthy relationship with alcohol is taking on our society.

"Too many Scots are drinking themselves to death. The problem affects people of all walks of life.

"Introducing a minimum price per unit will enable us to tackle these problems, given the clear link between affordability and consumption."

The Alcohol Minimum Pricing Bill is making its second passage through the Scottish Parliament after defeat in 2010 when the SNP was in a minority administration.

Labour is the only party not to have supported the revised legislation when it was debated at the first stage in March this year.

Earlier this month, MSPs agreed to a "sunset clause" meaning the law could be scrapped in six years if the policy does not work.

Dr Brian Keighley, chairman of the British Medical Association in Scotland, said: "Despite efforts to encourage responsible retailing by supermarkets, they continue to sell high-alcohol products such as vodka and ciders at ridiculously cheap prices to entice customers to their store.

"The trend for cheap alcohol and excessive consumption has a human cost. Alcohol-related illness causes one death every three hours in Scotland and the total healthcare costs are more than £268 million.

"This increasing cost could cripple the NHS with a financial burden that is no longer sustainable, especially in the current financial climate.

"A minimum price, as part of a wider strategy, could end Scotland's heavy-drinking culture and I am proud that Scotland's politicians are once again leading the world on public health policy."