Alcohol has been in the news this week so it is timely to remind people that my colleagues and I are fully committed to implementing minimum pricing.

Minimum pricing deals with a specific problem – the increase in consumption of, and harm from, ever cheaper booze – those high-strength ciders, beers, vodka and gin sold at pocket-money prices that are the real source of Scotland's alcohol problem.

Alcohol misuse takes its toll on families, blights communities and stretches support services across Scotland. The impact of excessive consumption is estimated to cost us £3.6 billion each year – that's £900 for every adult in Scotland – through health, crime and employment harms.

We strongly believe that a minimum price per unit of alcohol will be the most effective and efficient way to tackle alcohol misuse. Setting the minimum price at 50 pence per unit will have significant health and social benefits, such as fewer alcohol-related deaths, hospital admissions and a reduction in crime.

This landmark policy will save lives – and quickly.

Minimum pricing continues to have the strong backing of those who work daily with the effects of alcohol misuse – our doctors, nurses, the police and public health experts.

There is also strong empirical evidence that minimum pricing will reduce consumption and hence alcohol-related harm. In Canada, a 10% increase in the average minimum price of all alcoholic beverages was associated with an 8.9% decrease in acute alcohol-attributable admissions and a 9.2% reduction in chronic alcohol-attributable admissions two years later.

Our domestic court, the Court of Session, found comprehensively in favour of our minimum unit pricing policy for alcohol in a judgment issued in May. The court recognised the overwhelming evidence supporting the legitimate aims of minimum unit pricing to reduce alcohol consumption, with a particular focus on reducing consumption by hazardous and harmful drinkers who experience so much of the alcohol-related harm we see in Scotland.

While the UK Government is not continuing with minimum pricing at the moment, it is supportive of the legality of the policy and are backing the Scottish Government in the judicial review process.

The responses from some European member states are part of an ongoing dialogue we have with the European Commission. Ireland, Estonia and Latvia have all voiced support.

This is about dealing with a very specific problem of alcohol abuse that we have in Scotland. We are confident that minimum unit pricing complies with EU law and that we can demonstrate that minimum unit pricing is justified on the basis of public health and social grounds and will continue to press the case for minimum pricing in the strongest possible terms.

The Scottish Government is not attempting to favour domestic goods over imports. We are not trying to restrict trade and all products will be treated the same. Minimum pricing is a health improvement policy.

Our policy will have virtually no impact on quality products like Scotch whisky, quality vodka and wines. And it will have virtually no impact on those who drink moderately.

The driving factor behind introducing a minimum unit price for alcohol is to improve public health in Scotland. I am confident that this measure will further enhance Scotland's status as a leader in public health.