Page last updated at 12:52 GMT, Monday, 2 March 2009

Mixed response to drink strategy

Measures to tackle alcohol abuse by stopping cut-price offers have been outlined by the Scottish Government.

It has proposed a range of measures including the radical step of a minimum price per unit. It would be the first country in Europe to take the step.

Various groups, from health experts and police to retailers and publicans, have given a mixed reaction to the plans:

PATRICK BROWNE, SCOTTISH BEER AND PUB ASSOCIATION

"Many of the health benefits being sought by the Scottish Government are already being delivered because the public are consuming less alcohol in response to the economic downturn, with three pubs a week closing their doors in Scotland.

"Licensees will be disappointed that the government is trying to introduce further changes to Scotland's new licensing system with less than six months to go to its introduction."

TOM FRENCH, COALITION AGAINST RAISING THE DRINKING AGE IN SCOTLAND

"Rather than doggedly pursuing the daft, discriminatory and unpopular proposal to raise the alcohol purchase age to 21, the SNP administration should be cracking down on the huge swathes of teenagers currently able to purchase alcohol under age.

"Scotland's alcohol problem is serious and we cannot afford to waste time on gimmicks when we need real solutions."

PROF IAN GILMORE, ROYAL COLLEGE OF PHSYSICIANS

"We welcome the example set by the Scottish Government, both in the UK and internationally, in advocating a minimum unit price for alcohol as part of a comprehensive package of measures to tackle alcohol-related harm.

"This evidence-based approach to policy acknowledges that the overall consumption of alcohol is directly related to the levels of harm caused by its misuse."

FIONA MORIARTY, SCOTTISH RETAIL CONSORTIUM

"Irresponsible drinking is not about price or availability, yet this is the main focus of the government's approach.

"We need to develop solutions that educate rather than alienate - instead the government has retreated to its bunker and is neither listening to the evidence presented or willing to tackle these issues in a consensual manner."

DAVID POLEY, THE PORTMAN GROUP
"These plans will punish all drinkers, while only scratching at the surface of our drinking culture.

"People who drink to get drunk would not be influenced by these measures. We should be targeting the harmful drinking minority through better education and effective law enforcement."

DR PETER TERRY, BRITISH MEDICAL ASSOCIATION

"We strongly welcome the Scottish Government's recognition that alcohol misuse is widespread in Scotland and its commitment to lead the way in trying hard to address this issue, both through short-term measures and through long-term culture change.

"We particularly welcome its proposals on minimum price and promotions, as evidence shows that the increased affordability of alcohol is driving the damaging levels of consumption in Scotland."

JOHN CARNOCHAN, ASSOCIATION OF CHIEF POLICE OFFICERS IN SCOTLAND

"If you want to reduce violence then you need to reduce access to alcohol.

"We know the group most at risk from violence is young males aged 10-29, so if you limit access to alcohol in certain areas then it can only be a good thing, especially as it is done with local agreement and is locally relevant."

JACK LAW, ALCOHOL FOCUS SCOTLAND

"Regulating the price and availability of alcohol are the measures most effective in reducing alcohol consumption and related harm to individuals, families and society.

"Change won't happen overnight. But the combined efforts of government, health and police services, the alcohol industry, licensed trade and the voluntary sector should ensure significantly fewer Scots' lives are affected by alcohol misuse."

DR BRUCE RITSON, SCOTTISH HEALTH ACTION ON ALCOHOL PROBLEMS

"From today, Scotland will be seen as leading the way in both the UK and Europe in taking ground-breaking action to reduce alcohol harm.

"We know harm caused by alcohol is Scotland's biggest public health challenge, but we believe the action outlined today offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to begin to reverse the huge increase in alcohol-related harm we have seen over the last 30 years.

PAUL WATERSTON, SCOTTISH LICENSED TRADE ASSOCIATION
"We welcome the Scottish Government's focus on the irresponsible promotions and practices in off-sales.

"The link between excessive drinking and promotions and deep-discounting in off-sales - particularly supermarkets - is the major contributing factor we see with alcohol problems in Scotland."

ANDREW ROGER, FIFE LICENSING BOARD
"The proposal to provide flexibility for Licensing Boards in raising the age for off-sales purchases to 21 is an excellent way forward, enabling us to deal appropriately with local problems.

"The approach outlined by the Scottish Government would help to deal with the problem on a local basis and give the public the re-assurance that we are listening to their views and taking action."

ROSS FINNIE, SCOTTISH LIBERAL DEMOCRAT HEALTH SPOKESMAN

"Liberal Democrats campaigned hard against the SNP's plan to raise the legal age for buying alcohol.

"We believe it stigmatises an entire generation of young people as irresponsible drinkers and the government is wrong to think it can avoid responsibility for this ludicrous plan by shunting it to local authorities."

MURDO FRASER, SCOTTISH TORY DEPUTY LEADER
"We accept there are problems with heavy discounting of alcohol, particularly strong beers, ciders and alcopops, which might appeal to younger drinkers.

"Our preference would be to see these issues tackled through the tax system, which would involve co-operation with Westminster. But, as it currently stands, the minimum pricing plan is horribly flawed."

RICHARD BAKER, SCOTTISH LABOUR JUSTICE SPOKESMAN
"The SNP's plans to tackle alcohol problems in Scotland have been widely criticised and hugely delayed.

"From their crackpot scheme to ban 18 to 20-year-olds from buying a bottle of wine in an off-licence to the lack of any measure to tackle anti-social or criminal behaviour."

DON SHENKER, ALCOHOL CONCERN

"Today's announcement shows Scotland is much more realistic about what's needed to significantly reduce alcohol related harm.

"While consumption levels are high in Scotland, England and Wales aren't far behind and similar action is urgently needed in Westminster to stem the rising tide of alcohol related problems."

ALISON ROGERS, BRITISH LIVER TRUST
"Scotland has recognised the seriousness of the alcohol abuse problem and is taking serious action to tackle it - it is high time the government for England and Wales followed its lead.

"The evidence is overwhelming that cheap booze is fuelling heavy drinking, particularly among young people, and damaging the nation's health."

Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Scots plan to stop cheap alcohol
02 Mar 09 |  Scotland
Finland's u-turn on alcohol tax
27 Feb 09 |  Health
Hospital drink cases hit new high
24 Feb 09 |  Scotland
Scots rank high on drink levels
22 Feb 09 |  Scotland
Parliament rejects alcohol plans
02 Oct 08 |  Scotland

RELATED BBC LINKS

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific