The land where Scotch whisky was born has introduced a long-debated public health initiative—discouraging problem drinking by setting minimum prices for booze.
Beginning this month, retailers were required to charge at least 50 pence (68 cents) per unit, with a unit equivalent to about half a pint of beer or a small glass of wine.
According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, nearly 70% of alcohol units bought in supermarkets or liquor stores in Great Britain from October 2015 to September 2016 cost less than the new minimum price. Prices rose at least 35% for those products, which are generally cheap, high-strength drinks.
"All of the evidence says that minimum unit pricing will reduce deaths from alcohol-related illnesses, reduce hospital admissions and generally reduce the damage that alcohol misuse does to our society," said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who heads the Scottish government, as the change took effect.
Lawmakers approved minimum pricing in 2012, but it was delayed by legal challenges from the Scotch Whisky Association, which argued the move unfairly hit responsible drinkers on low incomes.
Almost a fifth more alcohol is sold per adult in Scotland than in other parts of Britain, and Scottish authorities say alcohol misuse causes about 697 hospital admissions and 22 deaths a week.
Norine Aslam, who runs the Top Cellar liquor store in the Edinburgh area of Leith, said she's "all for" the move. "It's like everything else; change is difficult," she said. "But I think it's a positive change, so it's just a hurdle that everyone needs to get over. I think it's more positive than negative. I think it will be good."