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Fury over Scottish crackdown

Published:  03 March, 2009

Radical plans by the Scottish Government to cap the price of alcohol and ban alcohol promotions have been met with fury by those in the drinks industry.

The moves, a response to worrying trends of alcohol abuse in the country, would make Scotland the first country in the world to set a minimum price for alcohol.

But those in the drinks and retail industries have warned that the moves will spell disaster for already struggling businesses.

Diageo GB Managing Director, Benet Slay, said: "We all have a common goal in wanting to combat alcohol related issues in Scotland. However, we are extremely disappointed to see that Government has failed to listen to industry's concerns.

"It is still progressing with sensationalist policies rather than following evidence based ones that will target the minority of Scots that drink irresponsibly. That is short-term politics making a poor attempt at tackling a serious long-term problem."

The Scottish Grocer's Federation (SGF) was also deeply critical of the plan and said it could result in the closure of small retailers unable to compete with supermarkets.

John Drummond, Chief Executive of SGF, said: "SGF is concerned the Government's framework introduces a number of proposals which will be discriminatory and harmful to the off-licence industry and particularly small shops whilst providing no overall strategy to reduce alcohol harm effectively."

The Scottish Retail Association added its voice to opposition.

Unveiling what she described as a "bold strategy", Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish Health Secretary, said the measures were an attempt to prevent strong drink being sold for "pocketmoney prices".

Last week, new research put Scotland eighth in a world league table for alcohol consumption.