So, alcohol-only checkouts. The latest amazing idea from the health authorities. Another crazy catch-all scheme, put forward with no thought as to the wider effects.

The proposals – put forward by Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems – are just one of 20 ideas they have to help reduce alcohol-based harm in Scotland. The proposals also include a call for authorities to be allowed to monitor “patterns of sales” to help work out which stores to close down.

This last call for data on sales, and the call for alcohol-only checkouts stand out because they are the most unworkable.

Can you imagine a customer not buying a bottle of beer or wine that they’ve picked up because they have to move two feet to the left of where they are? The problem drinkers, the ones that SHAAP is trying to help out, are surely the ones who only want to buy alcohol in the first place? 

Elderly spirit drinkers, or young adults grabbing a beer or some wine alongside the evening meal will simply be slightly inconvenienced. Getting their evening drink from another till will make no difference.

(As an aside, I also really like the idea of them trying to enforce this in pubs. Can you imagine getting the round in, and then having to go to a separate till to get your peanuts? Utterly absurd).

And where will small retailers who will have to install a second checkout in their stores to deal with this, put that till? There simply isn’t space.

If there is space, what of the cost? It will, of course, have to have EPoS – so that those authorities can measure your sales patterns to assess whether you’re a problem retailer – and will, of course, have to be staffed at those peak times.

You will have product on your shelves that, to ensure you can sell, you’d have to invest thousands of extra pounds each year.

When the expense of continuing to keep up with mindless, ill-thought through and unworkable legislation forces small stores to close their doors for good, maybe they will think about how penalising innocent retailers is not the right way to go about helping solve a nation’s health problems.