Scottish shops will no longer be able to sell alcohol to under-21s according to new proposals designed to curb binge drinking.
The plans would apply to supermarkets and off-licences, with 18 year-olds still able to drink in pubs, clubs and bars.
Other proposals include a ban on price promotions on alcoholic drinks and the introduction of a minimum price-per-unit.
Critics say that having one minimum age for buying alcohol at off-licences and another for buying it at pubs will lead to confusion.
However, Scottish National Party MSP Alex Neil supported the idea: “Scotland now has the highest rate of alcohol-related liver disease in the civilised world. Well over half of all crime committed on our streets is fuelled by alcohol. Clearly, action is needed to tackle the situation before it becomes a national crisis.”
The move comes as new research reveals that alcohol is largely to blame for Scotland’s high murder rate which, at 2.12 per 100,000, is double that of England and Wales.
Research Director Professor Louis Appleby of the University of Manchester said: “The findings suggest that alcohol and drugs lie behind Scotland’s high rates of suicide and homicide and the frequency with which they occur as antecedents in our report are striking.”