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Scottish multibuy drinks ban has negligible effect, says NHS report

Published:  18 June, 2012

The ban on drinks multibuys north of the border has had a negligible effect, according to a report from NHS Scotland.

The report, which evaluates the impact of Scotland's alcohol strategy, showed a modest decline in alcohol sales since the ban on deals, such as three bottles of wine for £10, was introduced. However, the drop in sales reflects a bigger trend for more responsible consumption which started before the ban came in, and which is echoed in England and Wales.

The report states: "There has been no obvious change in weekly trends of off-trade alcohol sales per adult in Scotland in the period of 2011 after the introduction of the quantity discount ban, or during the first part of 2012, compared with trends in previous years or in England & Wales."

It goes on to state that although off-trade sales declined most markedly after the ban was introduced, "this is not inconsistent with trends which appear to have begun slightly earlier elsewhere in Great Britain and may simply be part of an overall trend due to factors other than the ban".

Chief executive of the Scottish Grocers' Federation John Drummond, said: "Despite all of the cost and disruption of this policy to retailers it is clear that it has hitherto failed to make the impact which the Scottish Government told us it would.

"The Scottish Government consistently believes that the best way to tackle alcohol abuse is to further regulate and interfere with the retail market whether it is discount bans, minimum pricing, or more onerous and expensive licensing conditions.

"We should welcome the fact that there is a continuing decline of alcohol abuse in Scotland but the only way to maintain this is through a prolonged and sustain shift in attitudes towards responsible drinking. Increasing the regulatory burden on responsible businesses is clearly not the answer."