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10-03-01 Item xx Alcohol Etc _Scotland_ Bill 2010doc

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					                                                               Community Well Being and Safety Item 5

                                           Alcohol Etc (Scotland) Bill

Purpose
1. The purpose of this report is to apprise the Group of COSLA Leaders‟ consideration of the
    Alcohol Bill at their meeting on 29 January 2010 and to give members the opportunity to
    identify any issues they would wish COSLA representatives to raise directly with the
    Parliament‟s Health and Sport Committee in any oral evidence session.

Recommendations
2. Members are invited to identify any issues they feel should be raised in the event of COSLA
    being invited to give oral evidence to the Parliament‟s Health and Sport Committee and
    otherwise to note the report.

COSLA Leaders’ Consideration
3. The report submitted to COSLA Leaders is at annex 1 and covers the key issues relating to
   the Bill and COSLA‟s approach to the matter. Leaders agreed the proposed approach and
   the response at annex 2 was submitted to the Parliament‟s Health and Sport Committee.

Alcohol Commission
4   Since the Leaders‟ meeting, COSLA has been invited to submit written evidence to the
    Scottish Parliamentary Labour Party‟s Alcohol Commission and a copy of the COSLA
    submission to the Parliament‟s Health and Sport Committee has been provided. In addition,
    the Labour party has indicated its intention to table an amendment to the Bill that would set a
    maximum limit of 150g of caffeine per litre in alcoholic drinks – a move that reflects one of
    the issues raised by COSLA Leaders.

Conclusion
 5 There is no single answer to the complex problems stemming from alcohol misuse in
   Scotland. COSLA Leaders, at their meeting on 29 January, recognised the differing political
   views on the matter and agreed that a consensus response be made to the Scottish
   Parliament‟s Health and Sport Committee‟s request for written evidence on the Bill.




Sylvia Murray
Policy Manager
0131 474 9251
Sylvia@cosla.gov.uk

February 2010




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                                                                       Annex 1




                                                                               Leaders Item No.10

                                      ALCOHOL ETC (SCOTLAND) BILL

Purpose
 1. To enable Leaders to consider the direction of COSLA‟s response to the Alcohol Etc
 (Scotland) Bill and the request from the Scottish Parliament‟s Health Committee for written
 evidence.

Recommendations
2.   Leaders are asked to agree that the annexed draft response, amended if required to reflect
discussion at the meeting, be approved as the basis of COSLA‟s submission to the Parliament‟s
Health and Sport Committee.

Background
3.    Alcohol costs Scottish local government, communities and individuals dearly. Our alcohol-
related death rates are amongst the highest in Europe and have doubled in 15 years, all at a time
when indicators of alcohol -related harm are reducing in other European countries. York
University‟s recent research estimates the societal cost of alcohol misuse in Scotland in 2007 at
£3,555.7m; the health care cost at £268.8m; the social care costs at £230.5m; the cost of crime at
£727.1m; and the cost to the productive capacity of the Scottish economy at £865.7m.

Outcomes Sought
4.    The positive outcomes which local government might seek to achieve in relation to alcohol
include:
          a culture which fosters responsible drinking across Scotland;
          flourishing drinks, hospitality and retail sectors which support responsible drinking;
          confident young people who seek challenge and self-expression in ways which improve
           their mental, physical and emotional health and wellbeing;
          savings and benefits across Scotland to individuals, communities and public sector
           organisations from more responsible alcohol consumption across Scotland.

Approaches
5.       There is no simple solution or single effective approach to changing Scotland‟s deep-rooted
relationship to alcohol. Rather, a combination of public education and awareness raising; clear
information and labelling; responsible advertising, promotion and sale of alcohol; appropriate
legislation, licensing and enforcement; alcohol treatment and support services; prevention and
early intervention services; along with a range of other approaches and resources are all essential.
Equally important is a segmentation of the different profiles of “alcohol misusers” and a
differentiation of the reasons for “alcohol misuse” with appropriate prevention, intervention and
support measures in place necessary to meet the wide range of needs – as usual, one size will not
fit all.



The Bill

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6.    The Scottish Government‟s Alcohol Etc (Scotland) Bill was introduced in the Scottish
Parliament on 25 November 2009 with the intention of helping to reduce alcohol consumption in
Scotland and to reduce the impact that alcohol misuse and overconsumption has on public health,
public services, productivity and the economy as a whole. They regard the Bill as part of a wider
strategic approach to the tackling of alcohol misuse that should not be regarded in isolation. It
contains a range of proposals, including the introduction of: further restrictions on off-sales
promotions and promotional activity; a requirement for an age verification policy; provisions in
respect of assessing the impact of off-sales to people under 21; the power to introduce a social
responsibility levy; and minimum pricing. The Bill can be accessed at the Parliament‟s web site
www.scottishparliament.gov.uk.

7.    The Scottish Parliament‟s Health and Sport Committee has been designated as the lead
Committee to take the Bill through the Parliament, and has invited written evidence submissions
by 20 January 2010 to inform its consideration of the Bill. Although a formal extension to the
deadline date for submissions until the end of January was not possible for Parliamentary
procedural reasons, COSLA officers have highlighted that our submission will be made available
to the Committee following Leaders meeting on 29th January and our views will be considered.
COSLA‟s Community Safety Executive Group meets on 26th January and its views will be
available to assist Leaders‟ consideration.

Council Views
8.    Member councils have been asked to make available their responses to the Bill but at the
time of this report‟s preparation too few were available to enable any consensus view to be
drafted. It is anticipated that more information will be available about these responses by 29
January.

COSLA Position
9.     It is suggested that Leaders can support most of the key elements of the Bill, namely
restrictions on off-sales promotions; an age verification policy; impact assessments of off sales to
people under 21; empowering of Licensing Boards to raise the legal alcohol purchase age in their
area to 21; and a social responsibility levy on pubs and clubs. All of these elements enable
councils and their Licensing Boards and Community Planning partners to support responsible
sales by the off-sales sector; to reduce sales to underage purchasers; and, more generally, to
encourage a culture of more responsible drinking across Scotland.

10. Indeed, COSLA has previously reached agreement in consideration of some of these
alcohol-related issues. In January last year Shona Robison, Minister for Public Health and Kenny
MacAskill, Cabinet Secretary for Justice both addressed Leaders on the then consultation exercise
on Scotland‟s relationship with alcohol. Leaders recognised that one of the key aims was the need
to effect cultural change in Scotland‟s drinking culture and relationship with alcohol. Leaders also
agreed that permitting Licensing Boards to determine whether alcohol off-sales should be
restricted to those aged over 21 would allow flexibility and discretion to respond to local
circumstances.

11. It is therefore proposed that Leaders consider support of these key elements of the Bill within
the wider context of the broad outcomes and approaches which local government might want to
pursue in relation to tackling alcohol misuse.



Minimum Pricing
12. The more contentious area of the Bill is Minimum Pricing. Respondents to the Parliament‟s
Health and Sport Committee‟s consultation on the Bill are invited to consider:

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       i.    The advantages and disadvantages of establishing a minimum alcohol sales price
             based on a unit of alcohol;
      ii.    The level at which such a proposed minimum price should be set and the justification
             for that level;
     iii.    The rationale behind the use of minimum pricing as an effective tool to address all
             types of problem drinking;
     iv.     Possible alternatives to the introduction of a minimum alcohol sales price as an
             effective means of addressing the public health issues surrounding levels of alcohol
             consumption in Scotland;

13. Arguments in favour of minimum pricing, in particular from the health profession, focus on
evidence that increasing the minimum price of alcohol can influence drinking behaviour,
significantly and positively impacting on health. Research by the University of Sheffield suggests
that a 40p minimum unit price, together with a ban on promotions, would reduce the number of
alcohol-related deaths by about 70 in its first year. In ten years, this figure would rise to about 370
with a saving of an estimated £160m. In addition, 30,000 fewer absence days from work would
result. Modelling for the World Health Organisation suggests “that setting such a minimum price
reduces consumption and alcohol-related harm and it is estimated to have a much greater impact
on drinkers who consume more than on those who consume less.”

14. Opponents of minimum pricing, for example supermarket chains, view it as an unfair and
ineffective approach, taking the view that it is unlikely to deter those who are most at risk. They
accept that a fundamental change in the public‟s attitude towards alcohol is required, but argue
that this requires sustained education coupled with proper enforcement of existing laws rather than
minimum pricing. Opponents also argue that the proposal is untested; that it would impact
disproportionately on those from lower income groups who are moderate drinkers; that there are
concerns about the legality of the proposal in relation to competition law; and that the issue in
Scotland is the prevalent drinking culture and the long-standing problems stemming from social
inequalities. They feel insufficient weight is given to the benefits alcohol brings to the Scottish
economy; to the pleasure a balanced approach to alcohol brings to many as private individuals;
and to the contribution, again in a balanced way, alcohol brings to the business community at both
corporate and individual levels. There are also concerns that there could be unintended
consequences – an increase in the trafficking of cheap alcohol and unemployment in the lower
cost alcohol production industry, for example.

Conclusion
15. The Health and Sport Committee has framed its questions in such a way that „yes or no‟
responses to the Bill‟s proposals are not required, although clearly a direct indication of whether a
proposal is supported or not would be helpful. It is recognised that there are differing political
opinions on the Bill‟s proposals, particularly minimum pricing, and that Leaders may prefer to
proceed on the basis that both majority and minority views be clearly expressed in COSLA‟s
response.

16. While opinions may differ as to how these issues can best be addressed, there is a
consensus that the status quo is not an option, and action is required. The draft* response
annexed is therefore submitted to Leaders for their consideration.

*(Note – Feb 2010 – annexe is the actual response submitted, amended to reflect views
expressed at Leaders‟ meeting)




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                                                                                        Annex 2




ALCOHOL ETC (SCOTLAND) BILL
Written Evidence Submission to the Scottish Parliament Health and Sport Committee

1      COSLA welcomes the opportunity to submit written evidence to the Health and Sport
Committee on the Alcohol Etc (Scotland) Bill. The submission has been delayed by the need for
the issues to be considered by COSLA leaders at their January 2010 meeting. MSPs will be
aware of the political sensitivities surrounding some of the Bill‟s proposals and in these
circumstances it was felt inappropriate to submit views in advance of the meeting.

2      The following comments have been informed by the views of COSLA member councils but
do not attempt to summarise individual council submissions.

General
3     COSLA recognises that one of the key aims of the Bill is the need to effect cultural change in
Scotland‟s drinking culture and that there is no simple solution, or single effective approach, to
changing the existing deep-rooted relationship with alcohol. Rather, a combination of public
education and awareness raising; clear information and labelling; responsible advertising,
promotion and sale of alcohol; appropriate legislation, licensing and enforcement; alcohol
treatment and support services; prevention and early intervention services; along with a range of
other approaches and resources are all essential. Equally important is a segmentation of the
different profiles of “alcohol misusers” and a differentiation of the reasons for “alcohol misuse” with
appropriate prevention, intervention and support measures in place necessary to meet the wide
range of needs – as usual, one size will not fit all. The status quo is not an option.

Positive Outcomes
4     COSLA would wish alcohol legislation to achieve a number of positive outcomes including:
          a culture which fosters responsible drinking across Scotland;
          flourishing drinks, hospitality and retail sectors which support responsible drinking;
          confident young people who seek challenge and self-expression in ways which improve
           their mental, physical and emotional health and wellbeing;
          savings and benefits across Scotland to individuals, communities and public sector
           organisations from more responsible alcohol consumption.

Economic situation
5       The potential implications of the Bill for Scotland‟s economy, given the current budgetary
pressures, require full consideration. The cost of irresponsible drinking to the Scottish economy
has been well documented, as has the potential saving to the public purse of the introduction of
the Bill‟s proposals. However, as with the health benefits of most policies impacting on health (eg
smoking cessation), the positive benefit and financial gains may not be felt for many years. A
long term view is therefore required.



Minimum Pricing

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6      Views differ as to the best approach with regard to minimum pricing. It is recognised that
although minimum pricing would not be a solution to all harmful drinking, as one of a range of
measures, it has the potential to address certain specific problem alcoholic drinks. Other matters
that need to be addressed include the alcohol strength of some drinks and also the impact of
combining high caffeine level energy drinks with alcohol (and indeed alcoholic drinks that contain
high levels of caffeine).

Social Responsibility Levy
7      It is noted that the Bill proposes a power for Scottish Ministers to impose a Social
Responsibility Levy and that any Regulations will be subject to the affirmative resolution
procedure. Many points of operational detail have been raised in individual responses to the SRL
proposals and it is assumed that these will be considered fully. It is further assumed that in the
event of the levy proposals being progressed, there will be full consultation regarding the final
form of the levy‟s operational arrangements, to include aspects such as local flexibility, whether
the levy should be restricted only to pubs and clubs, and the timing of its introduction in relation to
economic pressures. It is recognised that drinkers often consume significant amounts of alcohol
at home before going to a pub/club and that this fact, outwith the control of pubs/clubs, can
contribute to problems.

Sale of Alcohol to Under 21s
8      According local flexibility to individual licensing boards to raise the legal alcohol purchase
age in their area to 21 is welcomed as providing councils with the flexibility and discretion to
respond to local circumstances.

Role of promotional offers
9      The damaging effect of promotional offers is recognised as an area that needs to be
addressed.

Oral evidence
10     COSLA would be happy to provide oral evidence to the Committee when it begins its
detailed consideration of the Bill.



January 2010




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