New Scottish alcohol crackdown to hit in October

By James Wilmore

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Pubs Scotland

A major clampdown on alcohol sales in Scotland - including a ban on "irresponsible" off-trade promotions and pubs being forced to operate a Challenge...

A major clampdown on alcohol sales in Scotland - including a ban on "irresponsible" off-trade promotions and pubs being forced to operate a Challenge 25 policy - will come into force on October 1 this year.

The Alcohol Act 2010 will also mean councils will have the power to charge all pubs and shops a "social responsibility" fee to pay for alcohol-related policing and health costs.

The measures were agreed in the Scottish Parliament in November, but the start date for the new laws were announced on Friday. Minimum pricing was rejected by MSPs last year.

Under the new rules it will be illegal for shops and supermarkets to offer deals such as "six cans for the price of four" or "three bottles of wine for £10".

Pubs in Scotland are already banned from offering irresponsible promotions, under the Licensing Act.

Off-trade venues will also be banned from advertising promotions within 200 metres of the premises.

However Paul Waterson, chief executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, argued the crackdown on promotions would have "no impact". "The supermarkets will be taking advice from their lawyers, so they can get round this, and know exactly what they can do," he said.

"It's impossible for the laws to be too prescriptive".

And Waterson branded Challenge 25 a "joke" for pubs. "There's absolutely no reason for pubs to be running Challenge 25," he said.

The Scottish Beer & Pub Association voiced concern at the timing of the introduction of the new laws, particularly the Challenge 25 measure. Chief executive Patrick Browne said the group had not been consulted about the October 1 start date, a Saturday.

"We would have preferred such a major change to be introduced on a less busy day of the week given that it is will pose additional workloads on pubs and their staff and has the potential to lead to tension in pubs as customers, some as old as 26 and 27, are asked to produce ID for the first time when they are buying alcohol," said Browne.

"They will have to be refused the sale if they cannot produce it."

He also raised concerns that the ban on cigarette vending machines is also due to come in on the same day.

Browne added: "Introducing two major legislative changes affecting pubs at the same time really doesn't make a lot of sense and it looks like it will be a long shift for licensees and their staff that weekend."

Scotland's general election will take place in May, which could see a change of government. However a Scottish Executive spokeswoman refused to speculate on whether a new administration would scrap the laws.

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