Scots NHS bosses suggest alcohol sale ban before 5pm

Shops could be told to stop selling alcohol during the day under new NHS proposals to curb the harm caused by drinking.

NHS chiefs have suggested cracking down on alcohol sales before 5pm.
NHS chiefs have suggested cracking down on alcohol sales before 5pm.

Public health experts from NHS Shetland suggested off-sales of drink should be banned until late afternoon or evening as part of a new report on substance abuse.

The report’s authors warn that alcohol has become “embedded” in society, citing figures that around three quarters of all alcohol drunk in Scotland was now bought from supermarkets or off licences.

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It states: “Restricting licensing hours would be a big help, if off-sales were not permitted until late afternoon or evening rather than from 10am.”

Dr Elizabeth Robinson, one of the report’s authors, told a Sunday newspaper that she would suggest 4pm or 5pm but the exact hours were up for discussion.

She said: “If you see dependence on alcohol as an illness, which a lot of people would, you would want to do everything you could to support them and help them get better, in the same way as you would with cancer.”

Other suggestions included a separate aisle for alcohol away from the main shop floor, and preventing small shops from displaying alcohol behind the counter.

The report will be considered by Shetland’s Licensing Board next year, and measures could be rolled out across Scotland if successful.

There are currrently around 670 hospital admissions a week in Scotland due to alcohol, while 22 people die every seven days from related conditions.

It comes after the Scottish Government won its legal battle over the introduction of minimum unit pricing, which would set a floor price for cheap lagers and spirits.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We have no plans to nationally amend licensing hours for alcohol sales, and it is for individual licensing boards to determine any new application.

“However, we are clear we need to do more to tackle Scotland’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol, including our plans for minimum pricing which have recently been upheld again in court – as well as the package of measures in our alcohol framework.”