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Watch: Minimum alcohol pricing in Scotland

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Watch: Minimum alcohol pricing in Scotland

Watch: Minimum alcohol pricing in Scotland
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NBC Left Field
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Scotland has become the first country to introduce minimum alcohol pricing.

Every unit of alcohol must cost at least 50p (€0.57) with stores keeping any extra revenue as a result of the higher prices.

For the cheapest alcohol - for instance, strong cider - the move has more than doubled the cost.

“What minimum pricing does and it does it exquisitely well, it disproportionately affects the cheapest brands way more than you raise the prices of anything else. Taxation doesn’t do that,” Dr Eric Carlin, director of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP), told NBC News' Leftfield film unit last month.

“Your cheap ciders, £3.99 for three litres, will really bump massively in price — £11 and £12," Dr Carlin continues. "We really hope that it will drive them out of the market altogether, products which are killing most people and are killing poor people more than they’re killing anyone else.”

But while minimum pricing could be effective, Claire Gallagher of Turning Point Scotland feels certain people will be disproportionately affected.

“I think the policy public-wide, I think it’s a good idea,” she says. “Maybe they’re looking at binge drinking, you know, youngsters going out at the weekends. You’re preventing them topping up with bottles of alcohol before they go out.

“I think the policy will certainly work, I think that’s great. But unfortunately that’s not the kind of client group I’m dealing with.”

Turning Point supports people with alcohol and drug addictions, as well as people suffering from learning disabilities and mental health problems.

“Remember, my client group aren’t drinking strong white cider for the taste, because it tastes like vinegar, they’re drinking it for the effect. They’re drinking for oblivion.

“They won’t be able to pay £11 for the cider that they drink just now, so what is the alternative?”

“What we’ve got is a projection that, in year one, deaths in Scotland will reduce by 60%," says Dr Carlin. "It’s kind of uncharted territory but then we can’t just sit around and not do anything about it.”

—This story was produced by NBC Left Field, which creates short, creative docs and features, all designed for social media and set-top boxes.

Video Journalist: Ali Withers