Scots attack alcohol plans

19 September, 2008

Trade bodies say proposals would demonise drink and pressurise retailers

Radical plans to change the way alcohol is bought and sold in Scotland have been savaged by trade organisations.

The SNP government is inviting views on a series of proposals, including raising the purchasing age for alcohol to 21, banning promotions and below-cost selling, creating alcohol-only checkouts at large stores and

introducing a minimum pricing system.

WSTA chief executive Jeremy Beadles described the plan to raise the legal purchasing age as "nonsensical".

"Instead of actually enforcing the laws available to tackle problems associated with alcohol misuse, the SNP has decided that headlines are more important than progress," he said. "It is by getting police out on the streets enforcing the law that we will make our communities safer."

The Scottish Grocers' Federation says plans for new legislation on alcohol and tobacco will cost the convenience store sector millions of pounds.

Chief executive John Drummond said the moves would "establish ridiculous anomalies, penalise the majority of adults who drink responsibly and increase the burden of regulation and costs for legitimate, responsible business".

David Poley, chief executive of the Portman Group, added:

"Problems of alcohol misuse in Scotland will not be solved by turning alcohol into a social taboo and demonising drink.

There is a considerable risk

this would actually increase the appeal of alcohol to young people in particular.

"Setting a minimum price for alcohol would penalise hard-working Scots.

People who claim that low prices are to blame for misuse among children miss the point; it is illegal for under-18s to buy alcohol. A sustained programme of enforcement activity will tackle this problem. It makes far more sense to enforce the current law robustly than to raise the legal purchase age.

"Education has made a huge difference to drink-driving in the UK, changing both attitudes and behaviour significantly over the

past 30 years.

Education campaigns and hard-hitting advertisements, combined with robust enforcement of the law, changed the culture. Consequently, the number of people killed in drink-drive accidents each year has fallen by two-thirds. Education can have a similar impact on our harmful drinking culture, provided

it is combined with proper enforcement of the law."

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