SCOTS can buy their weekly recommended alcohol intake for £2.50 at supermarket off-sales, a survey has revealed.

A report by Scotland's national alcohol charity has found that two and three litre bottles of cider were selling in shops and supermarkets for between 18 and 24p per unit.

It comes as the Scottish Government's minimum pricing proposals - introduced May 2012 - is due to return to court today following a legal challenge by the Scotch Whisky Association over claims the 50p-per-unit plans fall foul of EU free-trade laws.

Read more: Supermarkets blamed for rise in Scots alcohol consumption

Alcohol Focus Scotland (AFS) carried out a survey of the prices of cider, vodka, lager and wine in Glasgow and Edinburgh, visiting leading supermarkets including Asda, Morrisons, Sainsburys, Tesco, Scotmid, Aldi and Lidl, as well as smaller licensed corner shops.

It found cider topped the list for securing the maximum alcohol for the cheapest price, with a three-litre bottle of 'White Ace' cider at 7.5 per cent abv (alcohol by volume) on sale at £3.99.

At just 18p-per-unit, the weekly limit of 14 units could be purchased for just £2.52.

The Herald:

Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said she was disappointed the Scotch Whisky Association's legal challenge had shelved the policy for four years and claimed the delay had "undoubtedly cost lives".

“It is ridiculous that a toxic, carcinogenic product which causes so much harm can be sold so cheaply," she said.

"A takeaway coffee is £2.52 yet this can buy the weekly recommended alcohol limit of 14 units.

Read more: Herald View - Alcohol sales stats paint a shocking picture

"The more affordable alcohol is, the more we drink and this means more alcohol-related hospital admissions, crime and deaths. A 50p minimum unit price is the most effective way to raise the price of the cheapest, strongest drinks which cause the most harm in Scotland. "

The AFS survey comes just a fortnight after an NHS report found alcohol sales in Scotland were increasing with the equivalent of 41 bottles of vodka sold per adult in 2015.

Following several years of declining sales the report found 10.8 litres of pure alcohol was sold per adult in Scotland in 2015, also the same as 116 bottles of wine or 477 pints of beer in the year.

The Herald:

The latest AFS report also found vodka available at 36p-per-unit and lager at 26p.

Even some well-known branded lager was coming in at a unit price of 30p, with a very prominent vodka costing an average of 51p, a penny over the Government's recommended threshold.

It said almost three-quarters of vodka sells below the recommended unit price compared with just one per cent of malt whisky.

Read more: Time for a serious debate on alcohol abuse

The report found the average price for a unit of wine sold in off-licenses was 57p, but AFS said it sourced a wide range of wines selling well below that, including one at 32p at a well-known discount supermarket chain.

The charity said it had previously carried out a price check in 2011 and found little change in the price of the cheapest alcohol over the past five years.

Minimum pricing was passed by the Scottish Parliament in May 2012 but has yet to be implemented due to a legal challenge by the Scottish Whisky Association (SWA).

The Court of session is due hear evidence on Tuesday and Wednesday, with further dates scheduled for early July.

The SWA has consistently argued that minimum unit pricing, or MUP, would be an ineffective way of tackling alcohol misuse and not reach those who drink at harmful and hazardous levels. It has also predicted a wave of similar schemes and new tariffs which would damage exports and indeed the wider alcohol industry.