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by Louise Wilson
18 April 2023
Alcohol ad ban plans paused, First Minister Humza Yousaf confirms

Humza Yousaf was setting out his priorities as First Minister on Tuesday

Alcohol ad ban plans paused, First Minister Humza Yousaf confirms

Plans to ban alcohol advertising have been paused amid concerns from industry.

First Minister Humza Yousaf confirmed the delay in a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.

The Scottish Government opened a consultation on its plan last November. It proposed to ban advertising on TV, billboards and through sports.

But it faced significant opposition from industry, who warned the move would damage Scotland’s economy without addressing excessive alcohol consumption.

Yousaf said: “It is clear that some of the proposals have caused real concern to an industry which is already facing challenges on multiple fronts.

“I have therefore instructed my officials to take these ideas back to the drawing board, work with the industry, and crucially with public health stakeholders, to agree a new set of proposals.

“I believe that all of us want to reduce the harm caused by alcohol, particularly to young people – but without undermining Scotland’s world class drinks industry or tourism sector. I am hopeful that by taking a fresh look at this issue, we can find a way forward which achieves both of these crucial aims.”

The first minister also used the statement to announce a delay to the deposit return scheme launch date, a pause on progress on the National Care Service Bill, and that Scotland would be reentered into two international education surveys.

He confirmed the trial removal of peak rail fares will take place from October this year, while “new deals” will be created for local government and for Scottish businesses. The former will include plans to give councils more financial powers, such as a tourist tax, while the latter will look at improving support for business, including a review of non-domestic rates.

The Scottish Conservatives said Yousaf was “merely tinkering” with policy and was being “led by the extremist Greens”.

Deputy leader Meghan Gallacher said: “Scotland needs national leadership focused on tackling the big challenges – the global cost-of-living crisis, an NHS on its knees thanks to the first minister and a sluggish economy. Instead, we have a nationalist leader continuing to appeal to his hopelessly divided party.”

And Scottish Labour said the statement was only “rehashed promises”.

Leader Anas Sarwar said: “What Humza Yousaf can’t escape from is that he is not now running a functioning government. This is an SNP that is mired in scandal, mired in division, talking to themselves and about themselves.

“The crisis that now engulfs the SNP is not just an indication of how they govern their party, but also how they govern our country.”

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