MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the vote by the Scottish Parliament to enact a minimum price for alcohol.
Mr Stevenson said that it was time the sale of ultra-cheap forms of alcohol, priced with young people especially in mind, was curtailed in Scotland’s shops. The bill to ban the sale of alcohol at under 50p a unit passed at Holyrood.
Commenting after the vote, MSP Stewart Stevenson said: “I previously served on the Parliament’s Justice Committee. I remember well a series of visits we undertook to various towns looking at anti-social behaviour. Among them was Lossiemouth and the message which came across loud and clear was that something needed to be done about the availability of cheap alcohol, which was a major factor in making people’s lives a misery through the anti-social behaviour it led to.
“Medical professionals and the police also regularly tell me of the pressures on emergency services caused by drunken and abusive behaviour.
“In Scotland we have some alarmingly high levels of alcoholism, which is incredibly damaging to the drinker themselves, their families, friends and the wider community. Children in households where excessive alcohol consumption occurs are at significant risk.
“With this new legislation in place the minimum price per unit of alcohol is to be 50p. That is a significant step forward.
“Let’s not forget where we’ve come from in this debate, though. When minimum pricing was first mooted by the SNP, all of the opposition parties in Holyrood opposed it and voted it down. Now, just a couple of years on, we see the Tories and the Liberal Democrats making a complete U-turn and backing the policy. So it is now only the Labour Party that seem isolated in their position of wanting more talk but no action.
“Minimum pricing is not a magic bullet – we need education and lots more as well, but there is widespread support for trying minimum pricing – from the medical profession, police forces, charities and from significant parts of the drinks and licensed trade industry.”