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UV alcohol labelling meets scepticism

Published:  23 July, 2008

NRFN, an independent retailers' association, has questioned the effectiveness of a pilot scheme to mark alcohol with ultra-violet labels to combat under-age drinking.

The scheme, which is being piloted in Fife and championed by MSP Claire Baker, aims to trace back retailers who sell alcohol to minors.

But NFRN president Colin Finch said: "Underage drinking is becoming a significant problem in the communities that NFRN members serve. As independent and local retailers, members know that underage alcohol consumption can be damaging equally to teenagers and their neighbourhoods.

"As much as the NFRN supports any regulation or legislation that might help in resolving the issue we doubt that the UV marking scheme - as currently piloted in Fife - would be effective at all.

"We have, on numerous occasions, stressed the problem of proxy buying for example, where an adult purchases alcohol and or tobacco and sells or passes these products on to underage consumers.

"Finding a product in the hands of an underage consumer does not guarantee in any way that the same person actually made the purchase. Not to mention that with today's changing lifestyle alcohol may be found in most home refrigerators - without the teenagers actually needing to purchase it.

"We sincerely hope that government officials will soon realise that a more robust strategy is needed that does not penalise retailers but involves education and effective policing."