Portman Group warn that plans to demonize alcohol in Scotland won't solve the nation's alcohol problemsAttempting to tackle problems by raising prices or restrictingavailability would be untargeted, unfair and likely to be ineffective. In its response to the Scottish Government's alcohol consultation, thePortman Group, the social responsibility body for UK drinks producers,says that countries adopting a similar approach have failed to achieveany significant reduction in alcohol misuse.
David Poley, Chief Executive of the Portman Group, said:
"The myth is that levels of drinking and alcohol misuse are worse inScotland than elsewhere in the UK.In reality, Scots drink less thanpeople in the rest of Britain and are no more likely to be drinkingharmfully.
"Problems of alcohol misuse in Scotland will not be solved by turningalcohol into a social taboo and demonizing drink.There is aconsiderable risk that this would actually increase the appeal ofalcohol to young people in particular.
"Setting a minimum price for alcohol would penalise hard-working Scots.People who claim that low prices are to blame for misuse among childrenmiss the point; it is illegal for under-18s to buy alcohol.A sustainedprogramme of enforcement activity will tackle this problem.It makesfar more sense to enforce the current law robustly than to raise thelegal purchase age.
"Education has made a huge difference to drink driving in the UK,changing both attitudes and behaviour significantly over the last 30years.Education campaigns and hard-hitting advertisements, combinedwith robust enforcement of the law, changed the culture.Consequently,the number of people killed in drink-drive accidents each year hasfallen by two-thirds.Education can have a similar impact on ourharmful drinking culture."