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MSPs Visit Stores to Learn About Responsible Retailing

For the second year running, convenience store retailers across Scotland have successfully joined forces with MSPs throughout Alcohol Awareness Week to raise awareness of the importance of responsible drinking and retailing.

Alcohol Awareness Week is a groundbreaking initiative, seeing Scottish Government, the alcohol industry, health professionals and the voluntary sector come together to get people to think about what they drink in terms of units of alcohol, and how this relates to the sensible drinking guidelines.

John Drummond, Chief Executive of the Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF) said;

“This is the second year that SGF members have invited MSPs into their stores to jointly engage with customers within their local communities and encourage them to think about their drinking habits.

“We were delighted at the level of interest and support we received from MSPs. Store visits were organised across the whole of Scotland from Orkney to Gretna.

“As key stakeholders in their local communities our members understand the importance of fostering a culture of responsible drinking and invest significant resources to ensure they are responsible retailers of alcohol.

“During the store visits retailers had time to explain to MSPs some of the measures they take in their stores, including Challenge 25 and staff training, which help to drive up standards.

“If we want to improve Scotland’s relationship with alcohol we must accept that we all have a part to play. Hopefully AAW gives people ideas for small changes that can help them manage the amount of alcohol they drink.”

Retailers and MSPs Support Alcohol Awareness Week Together

Richard Baker MSP with retailer Graeme Knowles  For the second year, Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) members will be inviting MSPs into stores to join them in supporting Alcohol Awareness Week (AAW) (4-10 October).

Last year the campaign encouraged drinkers, through a range of hints and tips, to make a positive choice when it came to drinking alcohol. The theme for this year’s campaign is to drive awareness amongst Scots and demonstrate that making positive lifestyle choices, changing drinking habits and drinking more responsibly will enable them to get more out of their day, week, and weekend; at work, at home and with friends and family.

John Drummond, Chief Executive of SGF said,

“Consumed in sensible levels, alcohol can be part of a healthy lifestyle. However, some communities are blighted by anti social behaviour as a result of irresponsible drinking.

“As key stakeholders in their local communities our members understand the importance of fostering a culture of responsible drinking. With the support of MSPs, local shops look forward to engaging with their customers and encouraging people to think about the effect alcohol has on their health and behaviour.

“Everyone in a community has a part to play in changing the drinking culture in Scotland. Our members take their responsibilities as retailers of alcohol very seriously and invest considerable resources in staff training, Challenge 25 and other practical measures plus involvement in industry initiatives including AAW.

“We welcome the opportunity to work with MSPs in raising awareness of responsible drinking.”

SGF Fights on Against Tobacco Display Ban

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) will continue its campaign for common sense on the tobacco display ban despite the majority of MSPs supporting the general principles of the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Bill at Stage 1.

John Drummond, Chief Executive of the SGF, said:

“It is disappointing that so many MSPs support the introduction of a display ban despite the flimsy evidence it will make a difference to youth smoking.

“We believe MSPs should exercise their judgement on the merits of the evidence. SGF will continue to make the case to MSPs that the cost of the display ban, imposed on retailers at the worst possible time, is being pushed through in the face of weak evidence.”

The Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Bill will now return to the Health and Sport Committee for Stage 2 consideration when the Committee considers amendments to the Bill. SGF has been urging retailers to make their voice heard to their local MSPs.

John Drummond said;

“Retailers can still make a difference by writing to their MSP stating the simple case that the convenience store sector has been making since the Bill was introduced: that there is no evidence for the benefits of a display ban, yet the costs to retailers would be significant.”

Tobacco Report Echoes SGF Call for Proxy Purchasing to be Criminalised

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) has welcomed the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee recommendation to criminalise the proxy purchasing of tobacco but believes the Scottish Government must go further and make it an offence for an under 18 year old to attempt to purchase tobacco. However, the recommendation to ban the display of tobacco is wrong and will be damaging to small shops.

John Drummond, Chief Executive of the Scottish Grocers’ Federation said,

“The single most likely way for a young person to get hold of cigarettes is through an adult. Currently there is no legal deterrent to adults who supply tobacco for young people. Moves to criminalising proxy purchasing, as suggested in the Stage One Report on the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Bill, would be welcome. Proxy purchasing tobacco for young people is immoral and should be illegal.

“It is clearly wrong for an under 18 to attempt to deceive a retailer and obtain a product that they are not old enough to consume. SGF believes it should be illegal and would encourage the Scottish Government to have parity with alcohol on this issue.

“We are extremely disappointed the Committee has recommended a ban on the display of tobacco despite their own admission that the international evidence to support this measure is inconclusive. SGF has repeatedly made the argument that regulations should only be made when they are supported by compelling evidence. A display ban will impose a significant burden on retailers at a time when they can least afford it.”

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