Formulation of alcohol policy involves a range of government departments and local authorities.

Political devolution in Scotland means that the Scottish Government and Parliament have the authority to formulate, legislate and lead public policy on alcohol in areas such as health and treatment, licensing, criminal justice and law and order.

In the UK, alcoholic beverages are manufactured and retailed under licence. Anyone producing or retailing alcoholic drinks requires a licence to do so. New licensing legislation in Scotland which came into force in 2009 requires licensing boards to consider for the first time the impact on public health when deciding whether or not to grant a liquor licence. The public health principle enshrined in the new Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005, along with the other licensing objectives – preventing crime and disorder, securing public safety, preventing public nuisance and protecting children from harm – explicitly recognises that alcohol is no ordinary commodity and that public scrutiny and regulation of the alcohol market is essential to protect individuals and communities from alcohol-related harm.

Scottish Alcohol Strategy

The most recent strategy for tackling problem alcohol use in Scotland was published by the Scottish Government in March 2009: Changing Scotland’s relationship with alcohol: A framework for action  

Key elements of the strategy include:

  • A ban on price promotions of alcohol in off-licensed premises;
  • The introduction of minimum retail pricing for alcohol to prevent loss-leading and below-cost selling of alcohol;
  • Establishing a youth commission to explore the issues faced by young people in relation to problem alcohol use;
  • Giving licensing boards the power to raise the minimum age for off-sales purchases within their area;
  • Support for the delivery and evaluation of brief interventions to reduce harmful alcohol use.