Retailers and the alcohol industry have pledged to fight "unworkable" and "utterly spurious" anti-binge drinking proposals by the Scottish Government.
The proposals, which form part of the consultation paper Changing Scotland's Relationship with Alcohol, include making it illegal for off-licences to sell alcohol to anyone under 21 while maintaining the age limit of 18 in the on-trade; introducing minimum pricing per unit of alcohol; banning alcohol promotions in shops; and introducing a social-responsibility fee for retailers. The Scottish Grocers' Federation called the proposals absurd.
Suppliers also weighed in on the debate. "Effective solutions do not come from introducing headline-grabbing policies," Diageo UK MD Benet Slay said. "The fact that an 18-year-old adult could drink alcohol in a pub, club or restaurant yet not be old enough to purchase a bottle of beer and drink it responsibly at home is illogical."
Simon Oldham, UK MD of Whyte & Mackay, said: "Minimum pricing is anti-competitive and in practical terms appears unfeasible ."
Retailer bodies also slammed the ban on alcohol promotions and the proposed extra charges.
"Thousands of responsible retailers in Scotland are being wrongly singled out to blame for alcohol-related harm," said James Lowman chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores. "Scottish retailers are already set to pay licence fees that are way in excess of any other part of the country. The tax is punitive and discriminatory."