Scotland denies tax on cheap booze

30 May, 2008

The Scottish Executive has said it has no firm plans to raise an extra tax on cheap alcohol to fight binge drinking.

Reports suggested the OFT had told justice minister Kenny MacAskill

that such a plan was "not a problem".

Critics of minimum pricing policies

argue

they are illegal under the 1998 Competition Act unless there are "exceptional and compelling" circumstances.

MacAskill said in a statement: "We are currently working on a long-term strategic approach to tackling Scotland's cultural problem with alcohol, on which we will consult in the summer. We are considering a range of issues and at this stage we've ruled nothing either in or out."

The Sunday Mail

reported that a so-called "binge tax" of 50p per unit of alcohol was in the pipeline for Scotland.

MacAskill said: "The issue of price is one that we are looking at carefully. Alcohol misuse is causing far too much damage in Scottish communities

and it's costing our criminal justice system, economy and NHS dearly. It's not the drink, it's how we're drinking and we need to change that.

"It's clear that, as alcohol has become more affordable over the past 30 years, the amount we are drinking has significantly increased.

"Far too many Scots are drinking far too much and this is affecting us as individuals, communities and as a nation.

"When a bottle of high alcohol cider can be cheaper than water, when it's cheaper for young people to buy drink than go to the cinema or play football, it's clear that we need to act."

In a separate move in Scotland, licensees in Dunbar are being asked to record cases where adults make low-priced purchases

not in keeping with their other purchases to

highlight proxy

buying.




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