April 2009: Should the Government ban promotional offers and fix minimum prices to tackle Scotland’s alcohol problems?

Thank you to everyone who replied to the latest consultation question about alcohol pricing. Many of you felt very strongly about this issue, and the result was the closest yet – just 1 vote separating the yes and no answers!

The question was:

Should the Government ban promotional offers and fix minimum prices to tackle Scotland’s alcohol problems?

  • 49.7 % replied yes
  • 49.3 % replied no

Common reasons in favour:

  • Cheap alcohol is too much of a temptation for those with drinking problems
  • Promotional offers encourage people to drink more
  • Raising the price of alcohol may deter underage drinkers who have limited incomes

Many of those who were for the minimum price argued that instead of the extra money raised going towards profits, the money should be paid in tax to help alleviate the problems that alcohol can bring, such as the strain on A&E departments. Some were not convinced that the proposals would be effective, but felt that the government has a responsibility to try it as part of a wider strategy.

Common reasons against:

  • The majority of people drink moderately and should not be punished for the actions of others
  • People will simply spend more to achieve the same level of drunkenness
  • Scotland’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol should be addressed by education instead

Most people who were against the proposals stressed that the government must do more to change the culture of drinking through other, less punitive, methods.

It is clear from your replies that many people feel extremely strongly about the problems caused by alcohol, however, the nail-bitingly close result highlights the fact that society does not have a clear view about what is the best solution to these problems.

I feel that it is right that government should work with society to change our culture of excess drinking. 1500 alcohol-related deaths across Scotland each year is a shocking figure, and represents the tip of the iceberg in terms of the misery caused by alcohol addiction, binge drinking and alcohol-related violence.

It is unclear whether minimum prices and banning promotional offers is the correct action to take; however it is clear that something must be done. I would welcome your suggestions on how best to tackle the problems of excessive drinking. Please email yourviews@joswinson.org.uk.

Once again, thank you for participating.

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