Minimum pricing 'would deter pre-loading'

By Gurjit Degun

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Minimum pricing Scotland

Minimum pricing 'would deter pre-loading'
Minimum pricing would reduce pre-loading among young people on cheap supermarket alcohol, the charity Alcohol Focus Scotland has told a committee of MSPs in Scottish Parliament.

The charity’s chief executive Dr Evelyn Gillan was speaking at the oral hearing in stage one of the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Bill on 10 January.

Dr Gillan said: “Young people are buying cheap alcohol from supermarkets and pre-loading on that prior to going out. If we make the alcohol in supermarkets more expensive, it will be less available to them and they will buy less of it. Minimum pricing will impact on young people going out because it will be more expensive for them to pre-load on alcohol prior to going out.”

She added: “We are suggesting that, because of the change in drinking behaviour and patterns, licensing boards must now think much more about the overall effect on the availability of alcohol. Whereas licensing boards have traditionally been much more concerned with pubs and clubs, they now need to think about off-sales, supermarkets and the aggregate effect of there being lots of licensed premises, including those for off-sales, in their areas.”

However, an economics and business researcher raised concerns about supermarkets making “windfall profits” at the expense of poor consumers is minimum pricing goes ahead. Benjamin Williamson of the Centre for Economics and Business Research warned that no consideration has been given to how much minimum pricing will impact lower-income Scots.

Dr Gillan disagreed: “Hospital admissions for an alcohol-related condition are 7.5 times higher in the lowest income groups and death rates are six times higher, so the people on the lowest incomes who drink stand to be the biggest health beneficiaries of pricing mechanisms.”

There were also concerns about internet sales, and whether Scots will look to buying alcohol from across the border in England to get the best deals. And on the issue of the actual minimum price, an NHS doctor said that he would like to see it “as high as it can be without leading to the considerable negative health consequences that might kick in from home distilling”.

The Scottish Government has not yet revealed where the minimum level will be set but has used 45p to illustrate the plan.

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