Tougher alcohol licensing laws have come into force in Scotland this week, as part of the ruling National Party's strategy to combat excess drinking and alcohol-related harm. 

From today (1 September), customers will not be able to buy beers, wines or spirits before 10am, displays of alcohol will be confined to designated alcohol aisles and regional licensing boards have the power to ban promotions such as 'three for two' and 'three for GBP10 (US$16.22)' if they decide these are "irresponsible".

The moves were outlined in the Scottish Government's alcohol strategy earlier this year. The plan also includes a proposal to introduce minimum pricing, which is to be debated by Scotland's Parliament this autumn.

Retailers are currently seeking clarification on possible action against promotions such as 'three bottles for GBP10' or 'three for the price of two', following incidents in which local enforcement agencies have suggested stores might have to withdraw them, according to the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).

It warned that evidence from retailers suggests the 10am threshold for alcohol purchases is most likely to inconvenience pensioners, who prefer to shop when stores tend to be quieter and parents accustomed to shopping after completing the school run.

"We hope that Scottish Ministers, properly concerned to tackle those who are drinking excessively, will consider the impact of new rules on responsible consumers before ploughing ahead with yet more legislation on alcohol," WSTA CEO Jeremy Beadles said.

The WSTA last month came out against the UK Government's planned mandatory code of practice for alcohol retailers.

The WSTA said that the code currently being proposed will add "unnecessary bureaucracy" to businesses, the cost of which will ultimately be met by consumers.