Page last updated at 16:14 GMT, Saturday, 6 September 2008 17:14 UK

'Thousands' oppose booze ban plan

Alcohol at an off-licence
Other moves being considered include setting a minimum price for alcohol

More than 10,000 people have signed a petition against plans to raise the age for buying alcohol in shops and off-licences, campaigners have said.

Ministers have put forward proposals to increase the legal age limit for buying drink in off-sales from 18 to 21.

But the Coalition Against Raising the Drinking Age in Scotland (Cardas) claimed it was a "bad policy" that could even increase alcohol misuse.

The Scottish Government said schemes trialling the policy were successful.

The government has put forward the proposal for a national under-21s sales ban in shops and off-licences as part of a number of measures to cut alcohol-fuelled crime and health problems.

'Pig-headed manner'

The move has been backed by doctors, but has been criticised by opposition politicians, retail bosses and student groups.

Cardas, whose members include the National Union of Students Scotland and the Scottish Youth Parliament, said it had now collected more than 10,000 signatures against the proposal.

The petition will be submitted to Holyrood's public petitions committee.

Cardas co-ordinator Tom French said: "We have shown the Scottish Government, beyond doubt, that the evidence from abroad and at home is clear - raising the minimum purchase age for alcohol is a bad policy.

"It will not help solve Scotland's alcohol problem and could increase alcohol misuse as it has done in the United States.

"It is a policy that demonises young people and infringes on the rights of the responsible majority of young adults who would be trusted to go to war, get married, and even run a pub at 18, but could not have a glass of wine over dinner with friends or family."

We need to take action now to rebalance our relationship with alcohol
Scottish Government spokeswoman
Mr French said ministers seemed determined to implement the plans "even though it flies in the face of the evidence, is deeply unpopular amongst the public, every other political party in the Scottish Parliament, and even some of the SNP's own MSPs".

"By relentlessly pursuing this policy in this pig-headed manner the SNP administration risk appearing arrogant, out of touch, and in the business of following the politics of spin - where grabbing the headlines is more important than doing the right thing," he added.

Other measures announced in the legislative programme for the next year included setting a minimum price for alcoholic drinks in an attempt to stop cut-price booze deals.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "We welcome all engagement with the consultation process, because alcohol misuse costs Scotland at least 2.25bn every year.

"It's affecting our health service, our criminal justice system and our economy, and we need to take action now to rebalance our relationship with alcohol.

"When we have clear evidence of successful pilots - which carried the full support of local off-licence sellers, and resulted in a significant decline in anti-social behaviour, we have a responsibility to consult on spreading the benefits across Scotland."


SEE ALSO
Scottish legislation plans in full
03 Sep 08 |  Scotland
Minister sees booze sales trial
23 Jul 08 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
Fife MSP launches drinks petition
26 Jun 08 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
Under 21 booze ban is 'good news'
19 Jun 08 |  Tayside and Central
Pilot booze ban hailed a success
02 May 08 |  Scotland

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