Scotland should wait for a UK-wide ban on the below-cost selling of alcohol, according to the commission set up last year to curb excess drinking.

The Alcohol Commission today said duty should be the main tool for reducing alcohol consumption north of the border.

The body, set up by Labour before the election, warned that SNP plans to set a minimum price per unit in Scotland risked boosting the black market.

“Increasing the price of alcohol should be part of a broader package to reduce levels of abuse,” said the commission’s chair, Prof Sally Brown. “Taxation should be the main lever for raising prices because the additional revenue raised goes to the public purse.”

Brown added: “We need a broad-based, coherent strategy that recognises the complexities of the difficulties we face. There is no silver bullet that will provide a quick fix.”

The SNP government criticised the report, which it said was guilty of passing the buck to Westminster.

“Minimum pricing is a policy whose time has come,” said Scots health secretary Nicola Sturgeon. “It’s not a magic bullet but would effectively target problem drinkers and help them reduce their alcohol consumption.

“Minimum pricing offers Scotland the chance to lead the way in the UK, just as we did by introducing a ban on smoking in public places.”

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