Another blow to anti-alcohol and anti-tobacco lobbies

{ Posted on Aug 13 2013 by B-man }
Categories : Travel news

Scottish Government plans to introduce alcohol minimum pricing suffered a further serious

setback this week when the European Court of Justice ruled that minimum pricing of tobacco in Austria, France and Ireland is illegal.

Not only is this a blow for the anti-alcohol lobby everywhere but it severely dents the hopes of the befuddled in South Africa who think price and tax increases should be loaded onto cigarettes in a bid to ban smoking.

The ruling by the European Court of Justice upheld an October 2009 ‘Opinion’ by the Court’s Advocate-General that minimum pricing unfairly distorts competition. Minimum pricing arrangements in the countries involved were all found to violate EU law, in line with over 30 years of European Court case-law.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has called on the Scottish Government to withdraw its minimum pricing proposal from the Alcohol Bill and work with all parties to address alcohol harm in Scotland, where alcohol abuse is acknowledged as a social problem.

Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of The Scotch Whisky Association, said: “The ruling is a major development, confirming our contention that minimum pricing breaches EU law and unfairly distorts competition.

“Given this latest evidence, the Scottish Government must now recognise the legal realities. It cannot introduce a trade barrier in breach of the UK’s European obligations by imposing minimum pricing on alcohol in Scotland.

“The Court has also said that measures to prevent sales at a loss are acceptable. The SWA has said repeatedly that we are ready to work with the Scottish Government on just such a legal, alternative and transparent mechanism to address alcohol harm.

“We would urge the Scottish Government to withdraw minimum pricing from the Alcohol Bill and hope that a consensus can now be reached on tackling loss leading sales of alcohol.”

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