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Scottish Parliament Debate

Shona Robison: Making Progress on Changing Scotland’s Relationship with Alcohol

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) and ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) represent the interests of convenience retailers in Scotland.  There are currently 5,545 convenience stores in Scotland providing employment for 42,255 people and making a valuable contribution to communities across Scotland.

We believe it is important that the Scottish Parliament recognises the positive progress that has already been made to reduce alcohol harm in Scotland. The Scottish Health Survey 2013 shows:

  • Average weekly unit consumption has declined over the years for both men (from 19.8 in 2003 to 13.7 units in 2013) and women (from 9.0 in 2003 to 6.8 units in 2013).
  • Hazardous or harmful drinking has declined among both men and women since 2003 (from 33% to 22% in men and from 23% to 16% in women)

We welcome this debate on ‘Making Progress on Changing Scotland’s Relationship with Alcohol’ and would like to highlight the important contribution that convenience retailers have made to the responsible retailing of alcohol in Scotland.

Challenge 25

Challenge 25 was originally a retailer led voluntary initiative used to prevent underage sales to young people.  The Challenge 25 is now a mandatory part of the Scottish Alcohol system and has been highly effective in reducing underage sales.  A prime example of how retailers have led the way in preventing alcohol harm. 

The number of prosecutions for purchasing alcohol for consumption by persons under 18 fell from 156 in 2009/10 to 64 in 2011/12 (Answer to written question in the Scottish Parliament S4W-13828).

Community Alcohol Partnerships (CAPs)

ACS and other industry bodies fund community alcohol partnerships that bring together retailers, local authorities, policy and communities to tackle underage drinking and alcohol related harm collaboratively.  CAPs are well established across England and now developing in communities across Scotland. SGF is a key partner in the East Edinburgh Community Alcohol Partnership.

Proxy Purchasing

Retailers have made such inroads in preventing underage sales that the primary source of alcohol for young people is through Proxy Purchasing.  This is often through parents, older siblings or friends.  This was recognised by the Chief Constable of Police Scotland in his annual report of 2014 to Scotland’s Licensing Boards.

ACS and SGF want to see more action to educate parents and adults about the dangers of proxy purchasing alcohol for their children.  The government should do more to reinforce that this is illegal and that people will be prosecuted.

The Sottish Government Alcohol Industry Partnership

The Scottish Government and Alcohol Industry have come together to create an effective low cost partnership that has worked to deliver cultural change towards alcohol in Scotland.  The partnership has worked with on-trade and off-trade partners to encourage responsible consumption of alcohol and make the night time economy safer.

Responsibility Deal

 The industry has also delivered on a number significant Responsibility Deal pledges across the United Kingdom through the Department of Health:

  • To remove 1 billion units of alcohol from shop shelves by lowering alcoholic content or offering alternative drinks. Sales data shows that over 1.3 billion units were removed from the market between 2011 and 2013
  • To place labels on 80% of all drinks bottles that included safer drinking guidelines, unit content and a warning that women should not drink while pregnant.

For further information on this briefing please contact John Lee, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Scottish Grocers Federation; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 0131 343 3300


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