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Scottish doctors call for tougher laws on alcohol misuse

Published:  21 August, 2008

Doctors in Scotland have called for the Scottish government to introduce new laws to tackle alcohol misuse.

Doctors in Scotland have called for the Scottish government to introduce new laws to tackle alcohol misuse.

The British Medical Association (BMA) argues that the voluntary measures so far taken by the Scottish government have failed, and says that legislation and practical action is now required. It is calling for an end to deep discounting and is urging for alcohol pricing to be set by Scottish ministers, rather than people within the industry.

The BMA is also calling for supermarkets to implement separate checkouts for alcohol sales and says there needs to be tougher enforcement of the legal age for purchasing alcohol.

Dr Peter Terry, Chairman of BMA Scotland said: "The facts are simple - voluntary measures implemented by the drinks industry are not effective and do not reduce the damage of alcohol misuse in Scotland. The Scottish government must re-evaluate its relationship with the drinks industry which clearly has a conflict of interest and is flouting the current voluntary measures.

"Government must combat the devastation that alcohol misuse has on Scotland's population. We therefore need to step up, legislate and take action.

"The illegal purchase of alcohol by young people is a significant problem in the UK. Excessively cheap promotions are particularly likely to fuel heavy drinking and alcohol related crime and disorder. This explains why the BMA supports actions to address the promotion, price and access to alcohol. But we must remember that no single policy will solve the problem.

"If the Scottish government wants to tackle Scotland's drinking problem, it needs a comprehensive strategy that is fully resourced and followed through. We need to let retailers and the drinks industry know we mean business. Selling alcohol to under-18s and irresponsible alcohol promotion will not be ignored in Scotland any longer."

The BMA added that it welcomes plans to continue to press the UK Government to reduce the limit of drink driving to no more than 50mg per 100mls and introduce random roadside breath tests.