New licensing laws will come into force in Scotland today, banning pubs and clubs from offering discounted drinks when bought in bulk. Customers will also be entitled to free tap water, and soft drinks must be priced at a reasonable level. The changes will be watched carefully in England, where licensing laws have come under attack for being too soft. Scotland led the way on banning smoking in pubs.
"We in Scotland have a worse alcohol problem than in England, but generally the UK in European terms has got a significant alcohol problem," said Jack Law, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland.
The changes mean that supermarkets will only be allowed to display alcohol in specific store areas. Shops selling alcohol need a designated manager, who must have a personal license and must be present whenever alcohol is being sold. Previously, a license was required only for the premises.
Scottish firms that train bar staff have told clients that the new Act effectively outlaws asking customers "Same again?" because it could lead the customer into buying another drink.