Alcohol Focus Scotland and the SNP have today criticised comments made by Iain McKenzie MP – when on a visit to a school – regarding lowering the age of legally purchasing alcohol in Scotland to 16.
Mr McKenzie is quoted in the Greenock Telegraph, saying: “We should also standardise the age at 16 for people being allowed to buy alcohol.”
Barbara O’Donnell, Deputy Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: “Alcohol Focus Scotland would absolutely not support a lower age limit for buying alcohol in Scotland. “
Ronnie Cowan, the SNP’s candidate for Inverclyde at the general election on May 7 said that the Labour Party should listen to the experts.
Mr Cowan said:
“I’m really concerned to read the comments of Mr McKenzie on lowering the age to purchase alcohol to 16 year olds. Labour need to make clear if this now their policy.
“It is totally irresponsible and sends out the wrong message to our young people about the dangers of alcohol misuse.
“The Scottish Government has a strategy in place tackling alcohol misuse, through the proposal of minimum unit pricing and the stopping of happy hour promotions. Scotland has started its journey in addressing alcohol misuse but we have some way yet to go on this and now is definitely not the right time to talk about making it easier to obtain alcohol.
“Educating our young people about the effects of alcohol misuse and the potential risks of irresponsible drinking – rather than leisurely suggesting we lower the age of purchasing alcohol to 16 – is the way forward.”
And Stuart McMillan MSP is writing to Jim Murphy, the Labour leader in Scotland, to clarify Labour’s policy on the issue.
Mr McMillan said:
“This is a seriously irresponsible move by Labour – I am writing to Jim Murphy to clarify if this is a now policy that he plans to explain.
“I do hope that he can confirm that the incumbent Labour MP in Inverclyde is out on his own on this issue and can categorically rule out any plans that Labour would make alcohol available to buy over the counter for 16 and 17-year-olds.”