SNP admit they would consider backing Buckfast ban
THE Scottish Government will "carefully consider" Labour calls to ban caffeinated alcoholic drinks such as Buckfast, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has admitted.
But she insisted there was no evidence to show that this, in itself, would protect health or prevent crime in line with European Union (EU) law.
Experts told Holyrood's Health Committee yesterday there was no evidence to suggest the tonic wine caused or increased violence.
Ms Sturgeon told MSPs during First Minister's Questions today: "I have consistently said that I remain open to the consideration of any proposals by Labour or others that would contribute to reducing alcohol-related harm.
"In order for an amendment limiting caffeine in alcoholic drinks to comply with European law, evidence needs to be provided to show that such an amendment is necessary in order to protect health or prevent crime.
"If Labour have evidence, then I invite Labour to bring that evidence forward."
Labour's Richard Simpson said research by US-based Professor Mary Claire O'Brien did point to a link between caffeinated alcohol, heavier drinking, more frequent drinking and more risk-taking behaviour.
He added: "That is backed by the view now of NHS Scotland, who said in evidence to the Labour commission 'we think there is now sufficient information to restrict the amount of caffeine in combination products.
"The evidence is there."
But Ms Sturgeon, standing in for First Minister Alex Salmond, told Dr Simpson she is prepared to listen.
"If he has that evidence, he should present it formally and I give him an assurance that the Government will consider it carefully," she said.
Chief Superintendent Bob Hamilton, from Strathclyde Police's territorial policing unit, told the Health Committee yesterday there was no evidence to suggest the tonic wine caused or increased violence.
He said the "significant issue" is the availability and cheap price of alcohol.
Dr Alasdair Forsyth, a senior research fellow from the Glasgow Centre for the Study of Violence at Glasgow Caledonian University, said there was no evidence "because no-one's looked at it" that Buckfast affects mood, making people more or less aggressive.
The Alcohol Commission, set up by Labour, had called for a limit on the amount of caffeine in alcoholic drinks - a move which, if adopted, could see Buckfast banned.
The SNP administration wants to impose a 45p minimum unit price on alcohol designed to change the country's relationship with cheap drink.
The measures contained within the Scottish Government's Alcohol Bill have been widely embraced by the health profession but are largely opposed by opposition parties.
16 September 2010
Top cop: Buckfast isn't the problem
A POLICE chief told MSPs yesterday that banning caffeinated alcohol such as Buckfast may not help tackle violent crime.
Labour aims to pass a rule limiting the amount of the stimulant allowed in alcoholic drinks. It would effectively ban Buckfast unless the monks who make it change their recipe.
Ch Supt Bob Hamilton, of Strathclyde Police, told Holyrood's health committee: 'We have no evidence to support that that type of caffeinated product is a cause of violence or increases violence or not. The concern for us is alcohol-related violence.
'Violent crime is continuing to decrease and we're not seeing any real rise in Buckfast-related or caffeine-related problems.'
Dr Alasdair Forsyth, from the Glasgow Centre for the Study of Violence at Glasgow Caledonian University, said: 'We don't attend many violent disturbances outside coffee shops. It's the alcohol consumption that gives us the greatest concern.'
He said some drinkers though Buckfast had 'magic properties'.
Dr Forsyth added Scotland's hard drinking culture meant many drinkers did not consider ending their Saturday night in a prison cell as cause for concern.
He said: 'Their view is that's not a problem because that's what everybody does in Scotland.'
by Kirsteen Paterson in the Metro, p12, Thursday 16th September 2010
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SNP admit they would consider backing Buckfast ban/Top cop:Buckfast isn't the problem