The WSTA works with the Scottish Government, through the Scottish Government Alcohol Industry Partnership, to help promote responsible drinking. We believe that a partnership approach, in which government and industry work together to help people make sensible choices about their alcohol consumption, is the best way to tackle alcohol misuse.
Whilst being ineffective, policies such as minimum unit pricing would be detrimental to Scottish businesses- which is why we welcome the rejection of plans by the Scottish Parliament for introduction of a minimum unit price of 45p per unit in Scotland. The WSTA and industry partners successfully argued that whilst failing to effectively tackle alcohol harm, minimum unit pricing would penalise responsible drinkers and be very damaging for UK businesses.
Scottish Government Alcohol Industry Partnership
The WSTA is a member of the Scottish Government Alcohol Industry Partnership, which was created in February 2007 as a vehicle for Government and Industry to work together to address the complex issues surrounding alcohol misuse and promote responsible drinking in Scotland. Click here to access the the latest progress report on the group's work.
The Alcohol (Scotland) Act
In 2009, the Scottish Government set out its strategy for tackling misuse, in Changing Scotland’s Relationship with Alcohol: A Framework for Action. Part of this package was series of legislative changes, many of which were later pursued in the Alcohol (Scotland) Act, which was passed in December 2010. Although the minimum pricing plans were defeated, measures in the Act include a ban on promotions such as 'three for two' or '25 per cent off when you buy six' and a requirement for retailers to have a ‘Challenge 25’ age verification policy in place.
The Act also paves the way for the introduction of a social responsibility levy and the Scottish Government is consulting on how this should be implemented. The WSTA has consistently argued that a blanket levy will put an additional burden on Scottish businesses that are already paying increased licence fees. Existing enforcement powers should be the key drivers to reform badly run licensed premises, rather than assuming, as the levy does, that all retailers are irresponsible.
Click here to access a summary of the Alcohol Act.
The majority of the Act will come into force on 1 October 2011. The Scottish Government had initially proposed an implementation date of 1 June, but the WSTA and industry partners successfully argued that this would allow businesses more time to prepare for the changes in the Act. We are pressing for the guidance which accompanies the Act to be published as soon as possible.
A number of local authorities in Scotland are trialing bottle marking schemes, in which retailers are required to mark bottles of alcohol deemed ‘popular’ with under‐age drinkers, with an invisible code specific to their store.
The WSTA does not believe that bottle marking is an effective means of tackling under‐age sales as underage drinkers are increasingly obtaining alcohol through proxy purchase or from their parents. At the same time, such schemes place considerable burdens on retailers by requiring products to be individually marked. We continue to highlight our concerns about these schemes and promote alternative solutions to tackle issues related to underage access to alcohol, such as Community Alcohol Partnerships.
The WSTA continues to monitor the activity of Licensing Boards across Scotland, which have been reviewing and updating their Licensing Policy Statements for 2010-13. The statements summarise how each Licensing Board is interpreting the Licensing Act in reviewing applications. We have provided a tracker for each of the Licensing Boards’ new policy statements and would ask members to feed back any comments they have on how specific areas are interpreting the policy - click here to access this document.