SCOTLAND has become the first country in the world to introduce a minimum price for alcohol after the UK's highest court ruled that the controversial plan did not break EU guidelines.

The Scotch Whisky Association took its case to the Supreme Court, the final stage in the legal process to block the Scottish Government’s plan to impose a 50p per unit minimum price.

READ MORE: Minimum alcohol pricing drive in Scotland - the timeline of events

The Court today rejected the appeal and said the Scottish Government plan was appropriate and within EU law.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hailed the ruling as a necessary move to improve public health. 

Health Secretary Shona Robison labelled the ruling "a landmark moment" for Scottish public health.

The judgement said “minimum pricing easier to understand easier to enforce”.

It stated that minimum pricing targeted the health hazards of cheap alcohol in a way the tax system would not.

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Seven Supreme Court judges were unanimous in their decision.

The Act was first passed in 2012 but a series of legal actions challenged by the SWA through the courts has delayed it being put in place.

The SWA argued it was contrary to EU law on restricting trade.

However, the Court decided it was compatible and that the objective of the law was “legitimate and appropriate”.

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Dr Linda de Caestecker, Director of Public Health, for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said:  “We welcome today’s decision as the overuse of alcohol is a major cause of ill-health and early death in the population of Greater Glasgow and Clyde. 

“Minimum alcohol pricing will allow Scotland to implement one of the most effective policies to address this public health challenge and will save lives.  I am proud that Scotland is leading the way on this important policy.”