THE latest update of the research on the minimum price of alcohol confirms what I have always said, that this token attempt to reduce harmful drinking has had very little effect. This is no surprise to me because there is no way of stopping the alcohol industry from creating as many new drinks as it likes, to meet every possible palate and budget. A look around any supermarket confirms my point: we now have four to six aisles for alcoholic drinks where there used to be two.

Politicians are constantly blamed for the illicit drug deaths which have worsened in the last ten years, with drug barons creating hundreds of new drugs to meet every need. At the same time the alcohol industry has done exactly the same thing. They’ve created literally hundreds of new and different alcoholic drinks, to meet every taste bud and the budget of adults and children. With more 300 new gins, all sorts of pre-mixed drinks and cocktails in cans, around 100 alcopops, new vodkas, hundreds of special beers and wines flooding the market every month.

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Many people believe that if we legalised illicit drugs we could control their quality, their safety and who could buy them. History tells a different story because tobacco and alcohol have been legalised for three centuries, during which the damage to public health has escalated. Smoking and alcohol have killed many more millions of us than illicit drugs.

When legislating to reduce smoking and bring it under control, Scottish politicians did not consult the massive tobacco industry, because they knew they would have done everything they could to prevent any loss of business and profit. So why I wonder has the alcohol industry has been sitting at the table with Scottish politicians for decades, pretending to find solutions to alcohol dependency. Listening in on these discussions has allowed that industry to keep ahead of the game and constantly undermine any legislation that would harm their profits. The Scottish Whisky Association took the Scottish Government to court and successfully prevented the minimum price of alcohol coming into law for years.

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We have 61,500 people with drug dependency, 106,500 with alcohol dependency. Minimum pricing of alcohol has given the alcohol industry around £120 million a year in extra income which is clear profit, as they are selling the same drinks for more without costing them anything. As the cost of alcohol rises, the poorest drinkers get priced out of the market, so resort to buying the cheaper illicit drugs. Politicians should consider how to get the alcohol industry to contribute towards the harm they are doing by funding drug and alcohol recovery programmes.

Max Cruickshank

SHELL has revealed record profits of more than £7 billion in the first three months of the year. Household bills are soaring on the back of these profits, renewing calls for a windfall tax. While the UK Government is claiming that this will impact on investment by these companies, the irony is that BP boss Bernard Looney has said such a tax would not impact on its proposals.

Other countries also do not seem averse to imposing such a tax. Italy has imposed one, to cushion the impact of energy price rises, with the levy on energy industry profits rising to 25% from 10%. Spain has also agreed to remove taxes from home energy bills, which will instead be paid by enforcing a windfall tax on companies profiting from the surge in energy prices.

It is highly immoral that oil companies are benefitting from excess profits while households struggle, and yet the UK Government is unwilling to act to impose a one-off windfall tax to cushion the blow.

Alex Orr