MARK Smith is not alone, amongst political commentators, in seeing the Public Health Scotland report as an indication of the failure of the minimum alcohol pricing policy ("So now we see the truth on pricing of alcohol", The Herald, 9 June). However, such pundits really misunderstand the intention of the policy, both short- and long-term.

Alcoholism, like other addictions, is a disease; a disease which cannot be cured by restricting the patient's access to the substance, whether by fiscal or other measures. Had the Covid-19 pandemic not intervened, there were indications that minimum pricing was having an effect in reducing the consumption of strong alcoholic products amongst young people, thus tackling some of the anti-social behaviour problems fuelled by cheap cider and tonic wines. That trend might – I say "might" – in time lead to a reduction in the number of people becoming physiologically dependent upon alcohol. That, however, is a benefit that will not become evident for several decades.

Whatever the immediate research results, no one doubts that young folk need to be deterred from abusing alcohol and other drugs. Unfortunately, minimum pricing really affects only those at the lower end of the income scale. I suspect that many readers of The Herald, like me, may be annoyed that a supermarket "special offer" on a litre of gin is priced £3 more in the Dunbar branch than it is down the road in Berwick. Annoyed, but not deterred in our consumption of it.

So, let's not abandon minimum pricing but acknowledge that we need to augment it with a raft of more creative measures.

Eric Begbie, Stirling.

* I READ Mark Smith's article on minimum pricing of alcohol with interest, but it seems to me that he has misinterpreted the purpose of the policy.

There is a completely legitimate debate about the effectiveness of treatment and interventions for those with an alcohol dependency but preventing more people from developing an alcohol dependency must also be a priority.

Evidence shows that as alcohol becomes more affordable, drinking and alcohol-related harm increases. Prior to the introduction of minimum pricing, alcohol sold in Scotland was 64 per cent more affordable than in 1980. It was possible to buy 14 units of alcohol for around £2.50.The consequences of this were felt most keenly in deprived communities.

Minimum alcohol pricing is a preventative measure to redress this and to stop alcohol producers selling high-volume alcoholic drinks at an artificially low price in order to sell a greater quantity.

The Scottish Government is in my view entirely correct to prevent producers targeting the sale of high-volume, low-cost alcohol at those whose lives are most likely to be ruined by it. No-one would benefit from abandoning this policy.

Mhairi Hunter, Glasgow.


I WOULD wholeheartedly agree with Ian Smith (Letters, June 8) re the Imperial system making no sense. If, God forbid, the Imperial system is reintroduced, I sincerely hope that they do not revert to pounds, shillings and pence, 240 pence to the pound. I shall warn my wife that reinforcements are required – my mother regularly repaired my trouser pockets which had been worn through by the weight of change.

We would also have to trust that they do not confuse the metric and Imperial systems when building the Irish Sea bridge/tunnel, as we may end up with a (funding) gap in the middle.

Steve Barnet, Gargunnock.

* AS a dinosaur nearing extinction, I am proud to meet the criteria outlined by Ian Smith in his last sentence – one who "regularly hums Rule Britannia to himself and believes we still rule the waves", boosted I may say by the recent Jubilee celebrations.

Anyone swithering whether to come out of the measuring closet need only admit they use the Imperial system for height and weight, to order the occasional draught beer, to read the distance and speed road signs, to boast about their car’s fuel consumption and so on and on. Nobody was suggesting cancelling use of the metric system, just removing any overly-bureaucratic objections to the use of Imperial by any who wish to do so.

For some reason we have to live with the cost and to most of us the indecipherable proliferation of Gaelic signage alongside English, so why not Imperial alongside metric? Live and let live.

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.


RE the letter (June 8) from Richard Wiggins: it never fails to amaze me the arguments deployed to argue against the implementation of a four-day week.

When Robert Owen introduced a shorter working week for his employees working in his mill at New Lanark, it increased the productivity, reduced accidents at work and made his enterprise even more profitable. A four-day week increases productivity, and reduces absenteeism and work-related illnesses. It retains staff, allows workers more time to assist their family with caring responsibilities – either young children or elderly relatives – pursue educational qualifications or charitable work in the community. In addition it assists the environment by reducing the number of car journeys to and from work and helps to create the conditions for a sustainable economic recovery after the pandemic.

Jim Mackenzie, Edinburgh.


I FULLY subscribe to the cultural importance and international success of the Scottish Literature department at Glasgow University and appreciate the article by two members on the celebrated contributors to our poetry, song and prose since the medieval era ("Why we need to cherish the glories of Scottish literature", The Herald, June 8).

Just a wee quibble, light-hearted, and no offence intended, on the absence of Dundee-based poet and tragedian William "Topaz" McGonagall (1825-1902 , who described his copious outpourings as inspired by “divine inspiration”, and is considered by aficionados as among the World’s Worst Poets.

“Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay, Alas! I am very sorry to say, That ninety lives have been taken away on the last Sabbath day of 1879, Which will be remember’d for a very long time” (The Tay Bridge Disaster).

I leave him the last word on the demon drink: “... And denounce the publicans, because they cause sin. Therefore cease from strong drink, And you are likely to do well, Then there’s not so much danger of going to hell!”

R Russell Smith, Largs.