Page last updated at 10:18 GMT, Thursday, 26 June 2008 11:18 UK

Fife MSP launches drinks petition

Alcoholic drinks
A test scheme bans off-sales to under 21s on Friday and Saturday nights

A Fife MSP has started an online petition against plans to ban alcohol sales in shops to under 21s.

Iain Smith, who represents North East Fife, said raising the drinking age would demonise the majority of young people who drink responsibly.

A trial scheme preventing off-sales to under 21s at certain times of the week begins on Friday in Cupar, which is part of Mr Smith's constituency.

The Scottish Government has begun a consultation on its alcohol strategy.

Mr Smith, a Liberal Democrat MSP, said that although his party agreed radical action must be taken to tackle Scotland's lethal relationship with alcohol, raising the drinking age for off-sales would demonise every under 21-year-old.

Our young people are part of the solution not just part of the problem
Iain Smith
North East Fife MSP

He said: "It will introduce a presumption that an entire generation of 18 to 20-year-olds in north east Fife are irresponsible drinkers and will do nothing to improve relations between government and young people. Indeed, it could do quite the reverse.

"If Scotland is to tackle its drink problem we need the overwhelming majority of young people who drink responsibly on-side and campaigning, and setting an example to their generation.

"Our young people are part of the solution not just part of the problem."

The trial ban is taking place in Cupar and Springfield.

It will be imposed on Fridays and Saturdays between 1600 BST and 2200 BST and will initially run for six weeks.

Fife Constabulary said the ban was in response to incidents of drink-fuelled anti-social behaviour in the area.

Pc John Dale said: "Alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour can cause disproportionate problems for the wider community."

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