THE Scottish Government has no plans to give up on its plans to introduce minimum unit pricing and limit the sale of ‘deadly cheap’ alcohol, the First Minister has said.

Confirming ministers would press ahead with the policy despite the ongoing legal challenge to Europe's highest court by the whisky industry, Nicola Sturgeon will outline the Government's latest position at a major conference on alcohol.

Ms Sturgeon will be addressing the Global Alcohol Policy Conference and an audience of more than 400 leading health researchers and campaigners who have travelled to Scotland from more than 50 countries around the world.

Last month, the European Court of Justice’s Advocate General said minimum pricing will only be legal if it could be shown no other approach can deliver the same public health benefits.

The opinion led to supporters and opponents of the Government's flagship alcohol policy both claiming advantage and insisting it supports their stance.

The Scottish Government will continue to make the case in the Court of Session when it returns there later this year.

Ahead of the conference, the First Minister said: “I can confirm that the Scottish government continues to be absolutely committed to minimum unit pricing.

“I will continue to make the case against the sale of deadly cheap alcohol. During the three days of this conference, it is likely that approximately 300 people in Scotland will be admitted to hospital as a result of alcohol misuse, and that approximately 10 people will die.

“Those shocking statistics demonstrate all too clearly why minimum pricing is the right measure for Scotland to reduce the harm that cheap, high-strength alcohol causes our communities.

“We firmly believe that minimum pricing will reduce damaging alcohol consumption, improve health and save lives – and that it will do so more effectively than any alternative measures available to us.”

Official figures show people in Scotland drink almost a fifth more alcohol than people in England and Wales and that alcohol misuse costs Scotland £3.6 billion each year, £900 for every adult.

The ban on bulk discounts in shops has reduced alcohol sales by an estimated 2.6 per cent since its introduction in 2011.

The Government also said empirical evidence from Canada showed a 10 per cent increase in minimum price results in 32 per cent reduction in wholly alcohol attributable deaths.