A social responsibility levy on stores selling alcohol could raise more than £100 million a year to help tackle Scotland’s “public health emergency”, Labour’s Monica Lennon has said.
The health spokeswoman announced a future Labour government in Scotland would bring in the charge as she told how drug and alcohol abuse “is ruining lives in every community”.
Ms Lennon, whose father died after decades of alcohol abuse, insisted urgent change was needed.
With minimum pricing having increased the cost of many alcoholic drinks, Labour believes bringing in a levy on shops selling alcohol could recoup extra cash for initiatives to tackle problems such as addiction and health inequalities.
Previous research by the party has suggested a levy of 0.022p on every unit of alcohol sold in supermarkets and off-sales could raise more than £100 million a year.
Provisions to bring in such a charge are already in place, having been included in the Alcohol Scotland Act 2010.
Alcohol and drugs misuse is damaging communities across Scotland.— Scottish Labour (@scottishlabour) March 8, 2019
In government, Scottish Labour will enact a Social Responsibility Levy to raise money to fund public health initiatives to tackle this problem. @MonicaLennon7 #ScotLab19 https://t.co/d9VzlNPk9u pic.twitter.com/OQNlYwuiTx
Speaking about the party’s plans at the Scottish Labour conference in Dundee, Ms Lennon said: “We will end the predatory industry practices that saturate our poorest communities with betting shops, booze and unhealthy food.
“We will enact the social responsibility levy on alcohol sales, potentially raising over £100 million pounds a year.
“We will ban alcohol marketing to children.”
She argued: “Urgent change is needed. Overall life expectancy in Scotland has fallen for the first time in 35 years.
“How can it be right that the richest Scots can expect good health for 20 years longer than the poorest?
“And here in Dundee, Scotland’s drugs deaths crisis is at the highest rate in Europe.
“Drugs and alcohol misuse is ruining lives in every community. It is a Scottish public health emergency.”
She added: “My much-loved dad died from decades of alcohol abuse.
“Emotional scars of addiction run deep. Families affected by the harm caused by alcohol or drugs misuse feel isolated.
“Investment in recovery is scant. We will change this. Over 50,000 young people are affected by parental drinking.
“We will put support in place for them on the first day of a Scottish Labour government.”