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Last Updated: Friday, 21 March 2008, 12:35 GMT
Drink age 'could be raised to 21'
Man holding a pint of beer
Alcohol-related illnesses kill thousands of Scots every year
The legal age for buying alcohol could be raised to 21 under proposals being examined by the Scottish Government.

Ministers are considering raising the minimum age from 18, as part of a long-term strategy for tackling the country's drink problem.

Public Health Minister Shona Robison is due to present a number of proposals later in the year.

People in Scotland are twice as likely to die from alcohol-related deaths than elsewhere in the UK.

Ms Robison said nothing had yet been ruled in or out of the government's attempt to curb problem drinking.

Nothing has been ruled in and nothing has been ruled out and we will present our proposals later this year
Shona Robison
Public health minister

She added: "We all know that Scotland as a nation has a drink problem and the implications of this are very serious - not least for our health.

"The Scottish Government is currently in the process of developing a long-term alcohol strategy and as part of this we have been looking at a range of issues including availability, accessibility and age of purchase.

"At this stage, nothing has been ruled in and nothing has been ruled out and we will present our proposals later this year."

In most countries the legal age for buying alcohol is 18, but there are some countries - most notably the US - where those buying drink must be aged 21 or over.

Scottish ministers announced this week that they are to give health boards 25m to help combat alcohol abuse - double the amount handed out last year.

The money forms part of an extra 85m earmarked for tackling problem drinking over the next three years.

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