'˜Rather than pay bills, they'll buy drunk' Readers react to minimum alcohol pricing

The medical professions and health campaigners have hailed minimum unit pricing as 'an important milestone' but urged the Scottish Government to go further to tackle alcohol-related harm.

The policy has wide support from those who argue it will save lives, reduce alcohol-related hospital admissions and ease pressure on the NHS.

But campaigners have also called on ministers to look at additional measures they believe could further reduce the harm caused by alcohol, such as further restrictions on the marketing and availability of drinks.

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However, there has been a mixed reaction from Edinburgh Evening News readers to the changes.

Alcohol for sale in an Edinburgh off-licence as Scotland has become the first country in the world to introduce minimum unit pricing for drinks. Picture; PA

Lorraine McKay from Restalrig was concerned the baseline price could make some products “a bit expensive”.

“I don’t really agree with it, putting the drink up, but what can you do?” she said.

“People want a wee drink to themselves, like myself.”

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She said it could mean having to keep a close eye on what goes in the basket during a shopping trip.

“You’d have to cut down a bit. You couldn’t get as much as stuff as you normally get,” she said.

Craig, 30, from Glasgow said: “I think it’s a good thing. Drink is too cheap in supermarkets now.

“If you put the price up in the supermarkets and brought it down in the pubs a wee bit, folk would be drinking responsibly.

“People self-medicate with drink. So I think minimum pricing is a cracking idea.

“Not everyone is going to be happy [about it], but they’re not trying to make people happy. They’re trying to help people help themselves.”

Norine Aslam, 37, who runs the Top Cellar off-licence in Leith, welcomed the move: “As a shopkeeper I think it’s a positive thing for the public to control the alcohol problem in Scotland. I’m all for it.

“I’ve had the licensing officers come around, checking all the prices. My suppliers as well have been in touch with minimum pricing coming in. There’s been a lot of communication.”

“It’s like everything, change is difficult.

“But I think it’s a positive change – a hurdle that everyone needs to get over.”

Murray Wilson, 60, from Leith, questioned the need for the move, suggesting the existing taxes on cigarettes and alcohol are enough.

Mr Wilson said he drinks little himself but feels it may alter the way others shop.

“It could do, of course, when they see the prices increasing. It will affect a lot of people in Leith,” he said.

But he added: “People will always find a way to get drink. Rather than pay electricity, they’ll buy drink. It’s crazy, but that’s just the way it is.”

Writing on the Edinburgh Evening News Facebook page: Scott George wrote: “There’s so much total ignorance of what this means. If you like regular beer or wine you’ll see no difference. You’ll only notice this on super cheap supermarket brand crap and dangerously cheap cider.”

Liz Crosbie added: “I am pleased the Scottish government has done this and hopefully it saves A&E getting full with drunks at the weekend and lets them deal with genuine illnesses”

Alex Pickup added: “What’s the point in raising the prices if the hospitals and Scottish government don’t benefit from it? They should have upped the tax on them as they hammer people that smoke every bloody year”