THE SNP is to be congratulated for finally unveiling the long-awaited details of Scotland's minimum pricing on alcohol.
The 50p-per-unit pricing means the cost of an average strength of a bottle of wine will be at least £4.70 and a bottle of spirits £13.12.
As it is a move which will inevitably be unpopular in a booze-loving nation, Nicola Sturgeon has taken a brave position putting the nation's health above widespread appeal.
The legislation provoked much controversy as it was being introduced and was previously defeated in 2010. Numerous arguments have previously been raised against it, including that it will penalise responsible drinkers and simply lead to shipping in of alcohol from south of the Border.
Others have warned that introducing a minimum price could force those with alcohol addiction problems to turn to crime or using other substances.
But as Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly pointed out, the policy is not intended as a "magic bullet" that will instantly solve the nation's problems with alcohol. Yet it is a start.
Stemming the flow of cheap drink is surely a logical first step as part of the efforts to tackle Scotland's unhealthy attitude to alcohol.
One report last year found that alcohol was available for as little as 14p a unit. Eight litres of cider – adding up to more than 33 units of alcohol – could be bought for just under £6. It can never be right to turn a blind eye to the selling of booze at "pocket money" prices when alcohol kills three people every day and costs Scottish society £3.5 billion a year.
Whether minimum pricing will work, however, remains to be seen. However, with a 'sunset clause' in the legislation which means that it can be ditched after six years, Scotland has arguably little to lose from a relatively small hike in the price of drink.
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