UK: Scotland proposes minimum price for alcohol
Scotland's government is to push ahead with plans to introduce a mininum price for alcoholic drinks, as part of a range of measures designed to tackle alcohol abuse.
A minimum price per unit of alcohol was officially proposed by Scotland's ruling National Party (SNP) today (02 March).
Its announcement follows a consultation with police, health groups and industry on how to tackle alcohol-related crime and illness in the country.
Also proposed this morning is a clampdown on special offers in the off-trade, including the end of buy-one-get-one-free deals.
Ministers have backed down on original plans to raise the minimum age for buying alcohol in the off-trade from 18 to 21, but powers to introduce this will be handed to individual local authorities, to use as they see fit. Police forces will also be able to ask authorities to introduce the measure.
The proposal to set a minimum price on alcohol is likely to prove the most controversial, particularly after the the Labour government in London ruled out such a move in England and Wales last autumn, due to the economic downturn.
Drinks industry associations, including the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, have voiced strong opposition to minimum pricing and have consulted lawyers and competition experts on the legality of the plan.
"The Scottish Government is not listening to reason," said David Poley, Chief executive of industry self-regulatory body the Portman Group.
"People who drink to get drunk would not be influenced by these measures. Alcohol laws should be enforced properly against people who drink and cause a nuisance."
The plans could yet be watered down in Scotland's Parliament, where the SNP will require support from the opposition benches.
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