alcohol, binge, concern, independent, supermarketThe Scottish Government has failed in a last minute bid to introduce minimum pricing on alcohol – but has voted for the introduction of a ‘sunset clause’ which would allow a test of the plans to see if the measure reduces excessive drinking.

The arguments from health secretary Nicola Sturgeon – who wanted to impose a 45p minimum price per unit on alcohol – were strong, but ultimately fruitless as MSPs voted 76-49.

Most of the big hitters in the industry are happy. Simon Litherland, managing director of Diageo Great Britain, said, for example: “As we have previously stated, we firmly believed minimum pricing was not an effective solution in tackling alcohol misuse. The debate has clearly moved on and now we can look forward to working collectively with other stakeholders in Scotland and the UK to support targeted interventions which can make a real difference to dealing with the problem of alcohol misuse.”

SABMiller also welcomed the decision, citing research that said that a move to 45p-per-unit would only see heavy drinkers reducing their intake by one pint a week.

But what are these other interventions that Simon Litherland mentions? We’ve heard that minimum pricing would be ineffective – but also that the Supermarkets would be the only winners where shops were concerned, at the expense of smaller convenience stores and independent retailers.

What can be done about what is undoubtedly a problem – without hurting smaller retailers?