EUCAM - European Centre for Monitoring Alcohol Marketing

No minimum pricing for Scotland's Alcohol Bill but 'irresponsible promotions' curbed

11 November 2010

No minimum pricing for Scotland's Alcohol Bill but 'irresponsible promotions' curbed Scotland will not be introducing a minimum unit price for alcohol as opposition parties maintained their position, MSPs voting 76-49 against it at the final stage of the Alcohol Bill. The Scottish National Party (SNP) had called for the Scottish Labour and Conservative parties to 'rise above party politics', previously offering a sunset clause as a compromise. The Bill also failed to receive enough support for raising the purchase age for off licence sales, and restricting the caffeine content in alcoholic drinks.

Date:11 November 2010
Source:Alcohol Policy UK

However the Bill will curb irresponsible promotions, introduce a 'challenge 25' age verification scheme and initiate a 'social responsibility levy' option on licensed premises. SNP Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the Bill as a step forward, but spoke out against Labour for failing to back minimum pricing.
The Alcohol 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
- 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.

A range of press and media coverage includes reports from the BBC, the Guardian, and a comment piece in the Telegraph. Alcohol Focus Scotland said a 'historic opportunity had been missed', criticising the arguments made by opponents of minimum pricing. Health interests had been speaking out ahead of the final stage, the Herald reporting support for minimum pricing from high ranking doctors and police officers following the BMA Scotland publishing a statement of support from 160 key figures.

But Scottish Labour Party Health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said “Minimum unit pricing was rightly rejected by MSPs because it is effectively a tax on the poor”. She was backed by SABMiller, Diageo and the Scottish Whisky Association (SWA) who said MSPs should now 'build consensus around alternative, more effective, legal tax-based measures to address alcohol misuse.'

In England, minimum pricing had been called for by the Chief Medical Officer in 2009 but was rejected by Labour, who instead implemented the mandatory code (also banning 'irresponsible promotions'). The Lib Dems had appeared to support minimum pricing prior to forming the Coalition, which is now reviewing measures including a ban on below cost sales and changes in taxation to 'tackle problem drinking'.

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