Uproar as SNP Propose Bill to put Minimum Price on Alcohol.

By Jack Smith

It has been announced that the SNP Government have put forward a bill to implement a minimum pricing on alcohol, with the hope of solving the growing issue of alcohol abuse that lies within Scottish society.

The bill is designed to unable those who abuse alcohol from being allowed to purchase it for dirt cheap prices, with the minimum price being set at 45 pence per unit of alcohol. This in turn will result in a significant rise in costs in alcohol as in certain supermarkets you can buy a can of cider for 14 pence, which is cheaper than the water sold in these shops.

Shelf Life: The SNP will want to eliminate cheap supermarket alcohol.

As you can imagine however, there has been a degree of backlash opposing this proposed bill, with the new age of social media it is not hard for people to publicly show their distaste towards such ideas and there is no exception here. With a number of Facebook groups such as ‘No to SNP Alcohol Price Minimum’ believing that the SNP are wrong to introduce a minimum pricing for alcohol. This being evened out by the number of groups such as the ‘Support the SNP Alcohol Policy’ who believe that the SNP are right in trying to solve Scotland’s ever prominent drinking problem that is a result of our ‘booze culture’.

However what has emerged as a major debate surrounding the matter is whether or not the introduction of the minimum pricing would see a decrease in the alcohol abuse that exists within Scottish culture. Whilst the SNP would love to see less alcohol abuse which would lead to less violent crime and other offences caused by alcohol abuse, there is surely an underlying worry that increasing the prices for alcohol will only result in a raise in crime, due to those who are desperate for alcohol resorting to crime and stealing the alcohol from the shops. When an online poll was created to question whether people thought that the minimum pricing on alcohol would solve Scotland’s alcohol abuse, only 11 per cent said yes, compared to the 89 per cent who believed that the increase in price would only resort to those who are desperate committing crime in order to get it.

Those who certainly won’t be happy with the proposed bill are the students, who are already on small budgets and may have to sacrifice socializing as a result of the price increase.

David Copland studies construction management at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, when asked whether or not the increasing costs of alcohol would alter his lifestyle he answered with “If the SNP do introduce a minimum price then it will definitely change student lifestyles as we already have to budget for everything we need to live and an increase in the price of alcohol will make it harder to afford drink.” These feelings are shared amongst students all over the country who know that their social lives will be affected by the prospect of having to pay more for alcohol. With the student lifestyle now consisting a lot of socializing with alcohol David’s concerns are not only his own, but widespread around the country as students already have to budget for food, rent and transport so the prospect of not being able to afford a social life is concerning amongst students.

Despite the protests however, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has urged that minimum pricing of alcohol will only affect those who buy cheap alcohol and abuse it and that the minimum pricing is the “missing piece of the jigsaw” in order to get away from a society where “a teenager can buy enough alcohol to kill themselves for under a fiver”. The MSP described that if passed the law will not be a “magic bullet” but will certainly give significant steps towards lowering alcohol misuse in a country that has alcohol sales 25 per cent higher than any other in the UK despite only having a population of around 6 million people.

As unpopular as the bill appears, its intentions are good. Scotland has now gained a reputation of having a ‘booze culture’ and a large proportion of criminal offences in Scotland are alcohol related e.g. domestic abuse, assault. What will need to be maintained is that those who are desperate are not stealing it, as not only will they be getting alcohol that has been stolen, the crime rates related to alcohol abuse will continue to stay high. It also appears that the SNP know that they won’t be able to please everyone, as long as they are able to decrease the rate of alcohol abuse which goes on in the country.

The government certainly has laid down a marker in an attempt to improve the quality of Scottish society, a society that spends £3.56 billion every year on alcohol, working out at £900 per person. Whether or not the SNP’s plan works or not is however something that only time will tell.

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One Response

  1. “a large proportion of criminal offences in Scotland are alcohol related e.g. domestic abuse, assault”

    Many people use being drunk as an excuse to commit a crime or punch someone etc. but in many cases that’s not true, it is simply the persons choice to do something and then hide behind alcohol to make their crimes seem more excusable. In my opinion, being drunk, is not an excuse.

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