Labour-founded alcohol body calls for UK-wide price limit
A price limit on the sale of alcohol should be brought in across the UK, a commission set up to find new ways of tackling Scotland's drinking culture said today.
The Alcohol Commission, which was established by Labour, urged Scottish ministers to lobby the Westminster Government to bring in a ban on selling alcohol at below 'floor price' of the cost of production, plus
the cost of duty and VAT.
In addition to that, it called for a ban on sponsorship of sports by alcohol companies.
The commission also wants advertising of cheap drink promotions in the media to end, with consideration to be given to a total ban on alcohol advertising.
The Scottish Government has already put forward a number of measures aimed at dealing with the country's drinking culture - including controversial plans for a minimum price per unit for alcohol.
But the commission warned that the creation of a separate pricing structure in Scotland could lead to a black market.
Commission chair, Professor Sally Brown, also argued their approach would mean extra cash raised from any increased drink prices would go to the public purse, not retailers or producers.
Prof Brown, the Professor Emeritus of Education at Stirling University, spoke out at the launch of the commission report.
She insisted Scotland had to be "very serious about resolving its alarming problems of alcohol misuse", adding: "We need a broad-based, coherent and effective strategy that recognises the complexities of the difficulties we face - there is no silver bullet that will provide a quick fix.
"The commission was repeatedly told that it will be difficult to change Scotland's culture in relation to alcohol, but it can be done.
"We need leadership that both recognises the problem and is prepared to take comprehensive steps."
On the issue of pricing, Prof Brown added: "We are agreed that increasing the price of alcohol should be part of a broader package to reduce levels of abuse.
"Our view is that taxation should be the main lever for raising prices because the additional revenue raised goes to the public purse."
The commission also recommended the existing minimum purchase age for alcohol is enforced "much more stringently" and that action should be taken to ban alcoholic drinks with more than 150mg of caffeine per litre.
If this was brought in, it would effectively remove Buckfast from shops unless the content is reduced from 375mg per litre.
Public bodies, including the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government and local councils, were also urged to show leadership by not serving alcohol at official functions.
Prof Brown conceded the commission had not costed its recommendations, stating: "New strategies are never cost-free, but the cost of doing nothing would be much greater."
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