Authorities plan to cut out cheap alcohol

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Alcohol, Alcoholic beverage

Promotions that encourage the cut price sale of alcoholic beverages
could soon be outlawed in Scotland as European legislators
continue to drive a major crackdown on booze-fuelled crime and
injury.

Under new proposals announced last week, Scottish justice secretary Kenny MacAskill said that "multi-buy" schemes would no longer allow alcohol to be discounted or given away in the country. If passed, the legislation will create further restrictions on how processors can market and supply their products to consumers as authority's issue further crackdowns on the industry. MacAskill believes that the latest measures are vital to bring about a cultural change in how alcohol is sold and consumed throughout Scotland. "Alcohol is not just an ordinary commodity, to be picked up unthinkingly and thrown into the supermarket trolley along with a pint of milk and a pan loaf,"​ he stated, at the annual meeting of the Alcohol Focus Scotland organisation. MacAskill said that displaying alcohol separately from foods would ensure that this message was being sent out to consumers. The UK-based industry group, the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, has hit back at the proposals, particularly regarding illegalising trade promotions, suggesting there was little evidence linking give-aways with increased irresponsible drinking. The argument comes after the European Parliament last week adopted a new strategy to combat alcohol related harm throughout the bloc, as a result of growing concerns over health fears over EU alcoholic consumption rates. Binge-drinking, the availability of ready-to-drink "alcopops​", drink driving, and the issue of product labelling were highlighted as key areas of concern by MEPs for future reform. A number of measures which will be introduced, including increased spending on alcohol awareness campaigns in member states. Legislators also called for greater limitations on the availability and access to alcoholic drinks by young people, stricter labelling requirements and increased taxes on alcopops will also come into place. MEPs also called for greater cooperation between member states in exchanging information on successful practices to control irresponsible and under age drinking. The MEPs latest drive to clamp down further on the industry reflects fears over growing alcohol abuse in the bloc. Excessive consumption of alcohol is estimated to kill 200,000 Europeans a year, according to the EU figures. This pattern is attributed predominantly to men aged 15 - 29 with one in four of alcohol related deaths coming from this demographic. Though women were found to fair better in the study, estimates still claim that alcohol is responsible for the death of one in ten females belonging to the same age group.

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