Legislation on alcohol and licensing has had little impact on larger stores selling drink, a report suggests.

The ban on irresponsible promotions has had a positive impact on pubs and clubs but there is "clear consensus" this has been limited to the on-sales sector.

The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 outlaws irresponsible promotions such as buy-one-get- one-free deals in bars. A similar ban on such deals in off-sales was included in the Alcohol etc Scotland Act 2010.

However, research on the 2005 Act by NHS Health Scotland found most of the 200 people interviewed, many from the licensed trade, licensing boards and local licensing forums, felt "retail practice, particularly in the larger off-sales sector, had barely changed".

The report said: "There was a clear consensus the perceived positive impact in relation to irresponsible promotions was limited to the on-sales sector."

Respondents felt happy hours and other similar promotions are "now no longer a major issue" in pubs and clubs. But the report said: "The consensus throughout the evaluation - was that the larger off-trade sector had been largely unaffected by recent legislation in terms of its pricing, was too powerful and was able to overturn decisions reached by boards due to its financial clout allowing it access to the best legal resources."

Dr Evelyn Gillan, chief executive at Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: "The Licensing Act has reduced irresponsible promotions in pubs and clubs but cheap, high-strength alcohol is still being sold in off-sales, particularly supermarkets. To address this, we need minimum pricing implemented without any further delay.

"Action that licensing boards take - will be limited while alcohol continues to be sold at pocket-money prices."

Holyrood has passed legislation to introduce a minimum price of 50p per unit but this has been delayed by legal challenge.

Protecting and improving public health is one of the key objectives of the Licensing Act, but the report said this is "especially problematical". Many respondents said this objective is not fully understood.

However, licensing board members and licensing standards officers (LSOs) believe the Act has "made a positive impact on the whole".

The legislation introduced LSOs to provide information on the law and supervise compliance. This role is viewed as one of the most positive impacts of the Act.

The increased power for local licensing boards to refuse, suspend and apply conditions to licences was also regarded positively.

The 2005 Act overhauled the licensing system, requiring places selling alcohol to have a licence for the premises and a designated manager with a personal licence to sell drink.

Paul Waterson, chief executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said: "We're encouraged the study reports improved trade practice."