More evidence that the Gnats don't have a clue how to tackle Scotland's booze culture.
Following on from justice minister Kenny MacAskill's belief that shoving up taxes on booze will somehow solve the problem of binge drinking comes news that public health minister Shona Robison is considering increasing the age at which alcohol can be legally bought.
This is simply daft. Scotland already has a problem with thousands of under-age people buying drink every single week. Increasing the alcohol buying age from 18 to 21 will just make this problem worse, not better. Indeed, those aged 18-21 are likely to binge drink even more as a result, as they'd be denied access to pubs and would instead be drinking on the streets or at home, as many teenagers do already.
This is another example of the Gnats wanting to penalise everyone, in order to be seen to be acting tough on a problem which they don't actually have any real idea how to solve.
Not only would increasing the age for buying booze be ineffective, it's also unnecessary. Legislation already exists to take the licence to sell booze away from anyone found guilty of supplying alcohol to under-age people. Enforcing that properly would be a start, but that might mean the Gnats having to take action, rather than just thinking up gimmicks which won't solve the problem anyway.
And we ought to recognise that this obsession with under-age drinking can make us lose sight of the real problem: encouraging people to drink responsibly. At any age, including teenagers, you can find people who can drink sensibly while others just get out of it whenever they can.
Encouraging a responsible attitude to drinking requires a cultural shift which will take decades to achieve, but it is the only realistic way in which Scotland's binge drinking problem can be tackled. Gimmicks like raising the alcohol buying age are an irrelevant distraction.
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