Minimum pricing of alcohol
Lots of discussion about minimum pricing of alcohol at the moment. It's prompted by the move in Scotland to introduce a range of measures to combat alcohol abuse (see below, from an email I received today).
Would minimum pricing be bad for wine? It might help break the current unsustainable situation where producers and brand owners are squeezed ever harder by supermarkets who want to give their customers ever cheaper wine. It would be great to see people who make wine actually make some money from it.
But I worry that this is the thin end of the prohibition wedge. I worry that such measures could actually reduce the number of people drinking wine. Unexpected consequences of such a move could end up hurting the wine industry, rather than helping it.
CALL FOR EVIDENCE ON ALCOHOL BILL LAUNCHED Views on minimum pricing, off-sales discounts and raising the alcohol sales age to 21, have all been called for by the Health and Sport Committee today. A call for evidence on the Alcohol etc. (Scotland) Bill was launched by the committee after the Bill was introduced to the Parliament by the Scottish Government yesterday. Committee Convener, Christine Grahame MSP said: “This Bill aims to address the serious public health issues surrounding alcohol consumption in Scotland. We hope all organisations and individuals with an interest in this subject from health to licensing sectors will submit their views by 20 January 2010 and allow us to consider this Bill thoroughly.” Call for written evidence The committee welcomes evidence from individuals as well as from organisations and professional bodies and intends that evidence received will inform its consideration of the Bill at Stage 1. The committee invites views on all aspects of the Bill. Responses should address all or any of the following points in turn - * The advantages and disadvantages of establishing a minimum alcohol sales price based on a unit of alcohol; * The level at which such a proposed minimum price should be set and the justification for that level; * The rationale behind the use of minimum pricing as an effective tool to address all types of problem drinking; * Possible alternatives to the introduction of a minimum alcohol sales price as an effective means of addressing the public health issues surrounding levels of alcohol consumption in Scotland; * The advantages and disadvantages of introducing a social responsibility levy on pubs and clubs in Scotland; * The justification for empowering licensing boards to raise the legal alcohol purchase age in their area to 21; * The role of promotional offers and promotional material in encouraging people to purchase more alcohol than they intended; and * Any other aspects of the Bill. The Alcohol etc. (Scotland) Bill The main purposes of the Bill are to–– * Introduce a minimum sales price for a unit of alcohol (sections 1 & 2 of the Bill). * Introduce a restriction for off-sales on supply of alcoholic drinks free of charge or at a reduced price (section 3). * Make provision in law with respect to the sale of alcohol to under 21s (section 8). * Restrict the location of drinks promotions in off-sales premises (section 4). * Introduce a requirement for licence holders to operate an age verification policy (section 5). * Make provision in law for a social responsibility levy on licence holders (sections 10 & 11).