AN international expert minimum unit pricing of alcohol who has advised the Scottish Government on its strategy, says they are coming up with "the world's best" scheme that will cut crime, hospitals admissions and deaths.

Professor Tim Stockwell, director of the University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research says the Scottish scheme is an upgrade on systems operating in each of Canada's 10 provinces where pricing is "not as uniform" as it will be in Scotland.

The Scottish Government has prepared for the introduction of a minimum preferred price per unit of 50 pence ($0.66) per unit.

As a result, four 440 ml cans of five per cent strength lager would cost at least £4.40, a 12 per cent alcohol bottle of wine would cost at least 4.50 pounds, and a 70 cls bottle of whisky could not be sold for less than £14.

Minimum pricing was an idea forged in Canada and used for decades principally to stabilise provincial alcohol markets.

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Each of Canada's 10 provinces is able to set the lowest price per litre that alcoholic drinks can be sold for in shops and in some cases bars.

But there are huge variations across the country in the way minimum prices are set, with some linking to alcohol strength, others dependent on the amount of liquid, while rates vary.

Canadian academic studies suggest that the policy has successfully reduced alcohol consumption in some areas.

According to research by Prof Stockwell a 10 per cent increase in average minimum prices in one province led to an eight per cent decrease in alcohol consumption per person.

The price rise was also associated with a nine per cent decrease in patients being hospitalised for alcohol related diseases.

He said: "I have been in touch with people from your government and researchers and advocates there for the last six to seven years on the issue and I think they are coming up with the world's best. It will be world class alcohol and public health policy.

"I am predicting that people will be surprised by the reductions in crime, hospital admissions and deaths, all other things being equal, because there could be crosswinds caused by the economy booming and goodness knows what else. If it is compared with [other countries] you should observe profound effects."

But he said their research at consumption and harm caused brought about by minimum pricing has been "misunderstood".

"It has been read as if Canada is doing fanastically, that they have high minimum prices, and harms have come down. That is not true," he said.

"We have minimum prices changing all the time by different beverages. We monitor what is happening to the price, and the consumption and the harms.

"What we can say is minimum prices go up and down and with inflation they go down and often their left to diminish in value over time, and when that happens, we know hospitals admissions caused by alcohol and deaths go up, but when the price in real terms goes up and is adjusted, on average the minimum price goes up then the hospital admissions go down and deaths go down.

"Price and policy are not the only things driving this. There are big economic factors. We have privatisation going on here which is driving [alcohol] consumption up and competition forces prices down. There are many crosswinds but by and large all things being equal, any place any time, we estimate an ten per cent increase in the average minimum price results in roughly eight per cent reductions in acute and chronic alcohol-caused hospital admissions.

"Because alcohol causes people to get ill and have accidents and they drink on a budget."

In Canada the extra revenue generated by the minimum pricing goes to the government rather than the retailers. This means retailers in Scotland may have an extra incentive to increase sales because they will profit directly.