The UK Supreme Court has ruled that the Scottish Government can set a minimum price for alcohol, rejecting a challenge by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).
Legislation was approved by the Scottish Parliament five years ago but implementation has been delayed by court challenges.
In a unanimous judgment, seven Supreme Court judges said the legislation did not breach European Union law.
The judges ruled the measure was a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”.
Scottish ministers said a 50p-per-unit minimum would help tackle Scotland’s “unhealthy relationship with drink” by raising the price of cheap, high-strength alcohol.
The SWA claimed the move was a “restriction on trade” and there were more effective ways of tackling alcohol misuse.
The Scottish Government is expected to make it the first country in the world to establish a minimum price per unit of alcohol, possibly early next year.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “Absolutely delighted that minimum pricing has been upheld by the Supreme Court.
“This has been a long road – and no doubt the policy will continue to have its critics – but it is a bold and necessary move to improve public health.”
Karen Betts, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: “We accept the Supreme Court’s ruling on minimum unit pricing (MUP) of alcohol in Scotland. Looking ahead, the Scotch Whisky industry will continue to work in partnership with the government and the voluntary sector to promote responsible drinking and to tackle alcohol-related harm.
“We will now look to the Scottish and UK Governments to support the industry against the negative effects of trade barriers being raised in overseas markets that discriminate against Scotch Whisky as a consequence of minimum pricing, and to argue for fair competition on our behalf.
“This is vital in order that the jobs and investment the industry provides in Scotland are not damaged. At home, we hope to see an objective assessment of the impact of MUP.”