BII Scotland, the professional body for the licensed sector, has thrown its weight behind minimum pricing to combat problem drinking north of the border.
The call, which puts BII Scotland in direct conflict with other trade bodies such as the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), follows the proposal of minimum pricing by the Scottish Government.
The proposal was followed by a call for minimum pricing elsewhere in the UK by Chief Medical Officer Liam Donaldson, although this was quickly rejected by Gordon Brown.
BII chief executive Neil Robertson said his members are in favour of minimum pricing as it reduces the differential between the price of alcohol served by the on and off trades.
"We don't support the use of promotions based around cheap drinks in any type of licensed premises and would welcome closer parity in the price of alcohol," he said.
Robertson said it was even possible that these measures, fairly applied, could help to attract customers back into pubs.
"A well run, welcoming pub provides an all round hospitality experience which cannot be replicated anywhere else," he said. "We are encouraged that our members sell alcohol in a socially responsible manner already and this measure of professionalism pays off in these difficult times.
However, Mike Tye, managing director at Spirit, the managed division of Punch Taverns, said there were other ways to combat problem drinking.
"Is minimum pricing per unit the answer? I doubt it, it sounds difficult (to implement)," he told Caterersearch. "What we need is a common sense approach."
The ALMR has called for a ban on below cost alcohol sales, rather than minimum pricing, to prevent supermarkets selling alcohol as a loss leader.
By Daniel Thomas
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