Scottish Labour has called for the introduction of a public health levy on alcohol sales, to fund "vital, life-saving treatment."

The party said retailers were making around £40 million in additional revenue from alcohol sales because of the flagship SNP policy first implemented on 1 May 2018, which set the minimum price for alcohol at 50p per unit.

Labour said private retailers were "cashing in on the SNP’s policy while rehabilitation services struggle to recover from being cut to the bone."

A Public Health Supplement was last imposed by the Scottish Government between April 2012 and March 2015 in order “to address the health and social problems associated with alcohol and tobacco use” and to raise cash for preventive spending measures.

It was targeted at larger stores selling alcohol and tobacco, though was is not a direct tax on those products, but on the store itself.

It raised £95m before being discontinued.

Although not mentioned in Parliament by Shona Robison during last month's budget, the possible reintroduction of the supplement was included in the documents published alongside her tax and spending plans.


Scottish Labour said a public health levy on alcohol sales should be introduced with money raised given to alcohol and drug partnerships around Scotland.

Labour MSP Carol Mochan said: “Alcohol abuse remains a major health hazard in Scotland, with lives being lost as a result.

“Despite this, the SNP’s actions are allowing retailers to cash in on additional money from alcohol sales while frontline services are being cut.

“This is nothing short of a shameful failure of those most in need and a clear example of this government’s skewed priorities.”

She added: “Minimum unit pricing is no silver bullet and without properly funded drug and alcohol partnerships then more lives will be avoidably lost.

“Scottish Labour is repeating its longstanding call for the implementation of a public health levy so that services and those who need them get the support that they need.”

Any levy is likely to be fiercely resisted by retailers. 

When the possible reintroduction of the Scottish Government's public health supplement emerged, David Lonsdale from the Scottish Retail Consortium said the cost would ultimately be "borne by consumers.”