All the main political parties in Scotland agree that the country needs to tackle its long unhealthy relationship with alcohol and on 10th November the Scottish Parliament approved the Alcohol etc (Scotland) Bill. However, the Scottish National Party (SNP) Government was disappointed that the main opposition parties failed to back proposals to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol. The vast majority of medical, police and social scientific experts in Scotland back the SNP on this matter. However, there is a general election in Scotland in 6 months’ time and the opposition parties are reluctant to support a minimum price per unit.
As passed, the bill will:
Ban quantity discounts such as ‘three for two’ or ’25 per cent off when you buy six’
Restrict alcohol promotions in off-sales shops.
Introduce a Challenge 25 age verification scheme for all licensed premises
Pave the way for the introduction of a social responsibility levy to ensure those who profit from the sale of alcohol also put something back into the community
The Health Secretary and Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon said:
“I am disappointed that the legislation we have passed today is not as strong as we would have liked or as it could have been. It has, undoubtedly, been diluted through the absence of minimum pricing, which would save lives and reduce crime.
“However we should not lose sight of what has been achieved. We have had a wide-ranging debate on alcohol pricing and there is now widespread recognition across the country of the need to tackle pricing – though, sadly, support was lacking in parliament today.
“This legislation is also just part of the work ongoing in Scotland to tackle our unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Our Alcohol Framework is a comprehensive package of more than 40 measures and we are making significant progress to implement these.
“We have also invested a record £100 million in prevention, treatment and support services over the last three years.
“I believe this bill is an important milestone towards changing Scotland’s relationship with alcohol. But I am also clear that the journey is not over. There is more work to be done and we will not shirk from leading the way in addressing this challenge.”