Scottish legislators will push through plans to establish minimum pricing requirements on alcohol and ban cut-price offers in pubs and on the high street, it was confirmed yesterday, in the latest move to tackle excessive drinking.
The plans, first outlined last year and confirmed in an announcement by health ministers yesterday, will force pubs and retailers to abandon ‘two for one’ offers and ban them from selling drinks below set prices.
“Plummeting prices and aggressive promotion have led to a surge in consumption, causing and adding to health problems ranging from liver and heart diseases to diabetes, obesity, dementia and cancers,” said Scottish health secretary Nicola Sturgeon.
“The time has come for serious action. It is no longer an option for anyone to simply talk about the problem of alcohol misuse but shy away from the action needed to tackle it.”
The move, the first of its kind by a European country, marks the latest blow to the drinks trade north of the border and was met with dismay by industry figures.
“It's quite clear the Scottish Government has decided to grab headlines rather than come up with serious evidence-based policies [that] will address the real root causes of alcohol misuse in Scotland,” said Gavin Partington of the Wine & Spirits Trade Association.
“These proposals will result in higher prices for millions of ordinary consumers. Why should they pay the price for problems caused by a minority?”
Scottish Retail Consortium director Fiona Moriarty added: “Prices and promotions are broadly the same across the UK but alcohol-related deaths are far higher in Scotland than England, which clearly shows Scotland's relationship with alcohol is deep-rooted and complex.
“At a time when customers' finances are under severe pressure it's incredible that the Scottish Government believes voters will thank them for using the force of law to push up prices.”