Scotland has become the first country in the world to implement minimum unit pricing for alcohol.

New legislation brought into force on 1st May sets a minimum 50 pence per unit price to tackle the damage caused by cheap, high strength alcohol.

Research shows that the move is expected to save 392 lives in the first five years of implementation.

This pioneering experiment is being closely watched both in the rest of the UK and abroad and minimum pricing is becoming a widely accepted idea.

Similar legislation is to come into force next year in Wales. A bill is working its way through the Welsh assembly and will get royal assent this summer. But Wales may set a higher price, of 60p or more per unit.

Speaking during a visit to a hospital ward treating patients with chronic liver problems, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“I am extremely proud that the eyes of the world will once again be on Scotland with the introduction of this legislation.

“Our action is bold and it is brave, and shows once again that we are leading the way in introducing innovative solutions to public health challenges.

“It’s no secret that Scotland has a troubled relationship with alcohol. There are, on average, 22 alcohol-specific deaths every week in Scotland, and 697 hospital admissions and behind every one of these statistics is a person, a family, and a community badly affected by alcohol misuse.

“Given the clear and proven link between consumption and harm, minimum unit pricing is the most effective and efficient way to tackle the cheap, high strength alcohol that causes so much damage to so many families.”

Health Secretary Shona Robison said:

“We know we need to act now to change people’s attitudes towards alcohol and I am confident that, with the introduction of minimum unit pricing, we are moving in the right direction. Alcohol misuse costs Scotland £3.6 billion each year – that’s £900 for every adult in the country.”