Scotland to halt cut-price booze

A minimum price is to be set on a unit of alcohol in a bid to tackle Scotland’s binge drinking crisis, the Scottish Government has announced.

Ministers hope the move, to be introduced next year, will help put an end to teenagers buying cheap booze at ‘pocket money prices’.

Other proposals include a ban on drink promotions like three-for-two offers. There are calls for the plan to be taken up in England.

A precise figure for a minimum limit has yet to be set, but press reports suggest it may be 40p per unit.

That would mean a bottle of 13 per cent wine could not be sold for less than £3.90, a six-pack of four per cent lager £4.22, and a bottle of 40 per cent whisky would be at least £11.20.

Canada has minimum prices based on the type of drink, but Scotland will become the world’s first country to introduce a system calculated by alcoholic strength.

The drinks industry says the plan will be ineffective in tackling irresponsible drinking and will only punish ordinary shoppers.

Other critics say it will fuel a ‘booze cruise’ of Scots travelling to England to buy bulk amounts of cheap drink.

But with alcohol-related crime and health problems thought to be costing the Scottish taxpayer around £2.25 billion a year, others have welcomed the move.

The plan is supported by the British Medical Association in Scotland and the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish Health Minister, said: “Plummeting prices and aggressive promotion have led to a surge in consumption, causing and adding to health problems. The time has come for serious action.”

Don Shenker, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, wants the plan to be implemented south of the border too.

He said: “Similar action is urgently needed in Westminster to stem the rising tide of alcohol related problems.

“Introducing a minimum price for alcohol is the only effective way to deter risky and harmful drinkers, who tend to rely on low-cost alcohol.”

The Department of Health said it was considering what action to take south of the border but that Scottish solutions “may not sit comfortably with the whole of England.”

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