Are the Scottish government over-legislating alcohol? Whilst I agree Scots have a problem with alcohol, what good has the latest Alcohol Bill made towards controlling Scotland's consumption?
Last week's legislation ruled that major retailers could not make multi-offers such as three bottles of wine for £10 or two cans of beer/lager for the price of one.
The supermarkets, having been well warned in advance of the legislation, were prepared and now offer wine - which would be part of an offer of £10 for three bottles - for £3.33 per bottle. Tesco have also informed their customers that bulk deals were available if they ordered online because their wines are despatched from England and thus avoid Scottish law.
Dr Evelyn Gillan, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, is narked with the big retailers because she feels they should be more 'responsible'. It could be she's angry because the law she's lobbied for has backfired, but of course she wouldn't admit that. Why shouldn't retailers use their wits to usurp poor legislation?
The new legislation may make a slight difference to those who would prefer to buy one bottle of wine at a time, but it will make no difference to those who want to drink to the extent that they put their health at risk.
I tend to agree with Richard Dodd, the spokesman for the Scottish Retail Consortium who said:
Tackling irresponsible drinking should not be about legislation, it should be about changing the culture and attitudes to alcohol,” he said.“If the intention was to push up the overall price of alcohol then this legislation does not do that.”
What is the point in more laws about alcohol when our police forces don't enforce the current laws? Instead of carting drunks off to local A & Es in ambulances, it may do more good for them - and society in the longer term - if they spent a night or two in the cells sobering up. Their sentence could then include a proper contribution to the community rather than a fine (which few pay) or a community service order which is ineffectual. Let's start spending money in a more efficient manner rather than continuing down the road of the last 20 years' procedures.
The alcohol problem requires to be tackle from the bottom up not from the top (retailers) down. Why do Scots drink so much is the problem, not the price of alcohol. As long as we ignore the reasons then the problem will never be resolved.
What is also desperately needed in Scotland is a community service programme which works. So few do at present and nothing is done about it. Yes, an effective programme would require a larger financial input, but we're currently spending millions on programmes which are useless with much of the blame being on the organisations which supervise them.
Legislating for the sake of being seen to be doing 'something' isn't good for the country, or the government. Bad legislation shows political weakness not strength.