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SNP plan to introduce under-21 alcohol ban defeated

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A Scottish government plan to allow local "licensing boards" to increase the minimum age at which young people can buy alcohol from off-licences has been blocked by opposition MSPs.

This is the second blow inside a week for the SNP's Alcohol Bill after MSPs earlier blocked the introduction of .

Opposition MSPs argued allowing local licensing boards to ban off-licence sales to under-21s discriminated against young people.

Labour's Dr Richard Simpson MSP also highlighted that teenagers could easily get around a ban in one area by travelling to neighbouring areas without bans.

He added: "It's unfair if young people are only able to consume alcohol in a pub or restaurant but cannot buy a bottle of wine to have at home while watching the television.

"We're all aware of binge drinking being a problem for some young people but this can't be tackled by discriminating against all young people, even in a specific area."

Liam Burns, president of the National Union of Students in Scotland, was also glad the minimum age provision has been blocked.

He said: "It seems totally wrong that someone can vote, pay taxes and bring up a family but not buy alcohol for their own home."

SNP Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said she was disappointed the opposition voted against the Bill but said: "We should not see any particular initiative as a magic bullet -- we need a strong package of measures. That initiative was simply another tool in the box."

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