The Scottish Government’s controversial plans to ban under-21s from buying alcohol will not solve the nation’s alcohol problems but will demonise alcohol, says the Portman Group.
The drinks industry body says that attempting to tackle problems by raising prices or restricting availability would be untargeted, unfair and “likely to be ineffective”.
The Scottish Government proposal, currently out for consultation, also includes a minimum price of alcohol per unit and separate alcohol check-outs in supermarkets to deter impulse buys.
David Poley, chief executive of the Portman Group says: “The myth is that levels of drinking and alcohol misuse are worse in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK. In reality, Scots drink less than people in the rest of Britain and are no more likely to be drinking harmfully.
“Problems of alcohol misuse in Scotland will not be solved by turning alcohol into a social taboo and demonising drink. There is a considerable risk that this would actually increase the appeal of alcohol to young people in particular.”
He further adds that people who claim that low prices are to blame for misuse among children “miss the point” and only a sustained programme of enforcement activity will tackle this problem.
Last month Diageo also launched a scathing attack on the Scottish Government proposals, accusing it of failing to target those who misuse alcohol with a series of “ineffective” and “unnecessary” proposals that will penalise the responsible drinker.