Labour’s Alcohol Commission has called for a UK-wide approach to alcohol pricing, arguing that increases in duty should be the main lever for achieving price levels that will reduce consumption and misuse.
In its report published today the commission, which was chaired by Professor Sally Brown, has called for a UK-wide approach that sets a “floor price” for alcohol based on the basic cost of production, duty and VAT.
The commission calls for a broad National Strategy for Action on Alcohol, which focuses on changing
Additionally it calls for alcohol sponsorship of sporting events to be ended and a total ban on alcohol advertising to be considered, and calls on the Scottish Government to give “immediate and detailed” consideration to a local levy, which would be paid by alcohol retailers.
Launching the report, Professor Brown said:
“It is essential that
It is possible to change
While she said the Commission agreed that increasing the price of alcohol should be part of a package of measures to reduce alcohol misuse, she stated that it is the Commission’s view that taxation should be the main lever for tax increases to ensure the revenue raised benefits the public purse.
“The Commission has endeavoured to provide a constructive report. Some of our recommendations may be challenging, but they are also necessary if we really want to deal with this problem and not just talk about it. New strategies are never cost free, but the cost of doing nothing would be much greater.”
Shadow Health Secretary Jackie Baillie welcomed the report, describing it as “challenging and radical”.
“I believe that changing
Labour will use the report to inform its amendments to the Alcohol (
"In particular, we will act on the report’s recommendations for strong action to limit the availability of alcoholic drinks with active ingredients by seeking to impose a legal limit on the level of caffeine in alcoholic drinks.”
While Baillie argued that some of the recommendations, such as ending sport sponsorship by alcohol producers, “may not be practical in the short-term”, she said that she was sure that the report “will stimulate a serious debate throughout the whole of the
"If the SNP are serious about tackling
Meanwhile Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the report makes some “constructive” suggestions for debate.
However, she added that the report “ducks the central issue of tackling the cost of alcohol sold at pocket money prices in Scotland” and accused of “passing the buck to Westminster” by recommending that price increases should be achieved through taxation.
"The reason for having a Scottish Parliament is to address the issues we face as a nation, and the Scottish Government believe that we have a responsibility to use these powers to address Scotland serious problem of alcohol misuse – including introducing minimum unit pricing - particularly when figures published today show that both men and women in Scotland are more likely to exceed government safe drinking guidelines than people in England,” she said.
"A ban on alcohol below the aggregate of duty and VAT is not a serious alternative to minimum pricing because it would create a price so low it would have no impact on the levels drunk – and therefore no impact on the harm and misery caused.”
Sturgeon added that the Scottish Government’s offer to Labour to work together is still open.
"We will consider any amendments they want to propose for the Alcohol Bill that provide a realistic, workable and effective pricing intervention that can be put in place now.
“Their Commission has failed to come up with anything of substance, but the door is still open."