The Scottish Executive is facing growing opposition against its plans for tackling Scotland’s alcohol problem.
The proposals being examined include introducing a minimum price of 35p per unit, increasing the cost of cheap lager and cider, banning promotions, and installing alcohol-only checkouts, thereby forcing shoppers to queue twice.
However, the most controversial element is banning under-21s from buying alcohol in shops and supermarkets, but allowing over-18s to continue drinking in pubs. The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) has condemned this proposal as costly, unworkable and damaging to business.
Responding to the consultation, SGF chief executive John Drummond said: “This measure penalises the majority of young adults who drink responsibly, and increases the burden of regulation and costs for legitimate businesses already struggling with licence fees.”
The Coalition Against Raising the Drinking Age in Scotland, whose members include the National Union of Students (NUS), has also submitted a 10,000-signature petition against the under-21 off-trade ban.
NUS Scotland president Gurjit Singh said: ‘Binge drinking is a problem across the generations and criminalising the majority of young people who drink responsibly will do little to tackle that. Furthermore, the evidence put forward to back the idea is weak at best.”
Even Alcohol Focus Scotland (AFS), a charity dedicated to raising alcohol awareness, has cast doubt on the proposal’s effectiveness.
MSPs are expected to publish their conclusions within the next few months.