Regulatory Review Group minutes: January 2024

Minutes from the meeting held on 10 January 2024.

Attendees and apologies

  • Professor Russel Griggs OBE, Chairman
  • Susan Love, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
  • Fiona Richardson, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities
  • Brian Lawrie, Society of Chief Officers of Environmental Health in Scotland
  • Douglas White, Consumer Scotland
  • Ewan MacDonald-Russell, Scottish Retail Consortium
  • David MacKenzie, Trading Standards
  • James Wilson, Scottish Government
  • Fiona Dill, Scottish Government
  • Ross Stephen, Scottish Government 
  • Alex Kidd, Scottish Government
  • Rachel Dolan, Scottish Government 


  • James Fowlie, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities
  • Wendy McCutcheon, Scottish Government
  • Hazel Burgess, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Professor Russel Griggs OBE welcomed attendees and thanked them for participating in this virtual Regulatory Review Group (RRG) policy spotlight meeting. Public health policy officials were introduced and presented on Alcohol Minimum Unit Pricing and Tobacco and Vaping Framework during the course of the meeting. 

Alcohol Minimum Unit Pricing

Scottish Government public health policy officials joined the RRG and presented on the ongoing work for Minimum Unit Pricing. It was noted that a decision on the policy will be taken by Ministers shortly, following the consultation analysis conducted at the end of last year. The RRG confirmed that they would send their advice to the relevant Ministers in order to ensure that they are able to have consideration of any implementation challenges identified. A facilitated discussion then took place where the following key points were raised:

  • the RRG agreed that there will be different implementation periods required and resulting impacts depending on the decision taken by Ministers on the future policy continuation and price level. The RRG agreed that a 6 month implementation period would be necessary for business to make any operational changes should a price increase be selected. Members noted that it should be taken into consideration that retailers peak trading months are between October and December and therefore, implementation should take place prior to this. 
  • a sensible implementation time period takes into consideration retailers who have not yet been affected by this policy and may have to create new systems and features to ensure their operations are compliant with MUP regulation.
  • members highlighted that business will not be able to take proactive actions to comply until a policy decision has been taken. Members noted that there will be no operational impact if the current policy continues at current pricing. 
  • the importance of communicating a change in the policy was raised by the RRG to ensure awareness for both business and consumers.
  • members highlighted that it would be useful for business to know in advance if there will be ongoing changes and uprating of the MUP so adequate preparations can be made to ensure they are compliant. Policy officials confirmed this would be in the scope for discussion and consultation if the policy continues and there is a decision taken to increase. 
  • members highlighted that the existing BRIA would need to be updated with further detail once the policy approach is decided upon. Members requested that the impact on smaller retailers and producers are more clearly set out, along with the cost implications and time associated with compliance and implementation. It was also noted that a more comprehensive assessment around enforcement should be included in the updated BRIA.

Professor Griggs advised that the RRG would write to the relevant Minister to set out its considerations and observations on the implementation challenges for MUP at the earliest opportunity.

Tobacco and Vaping Framework

Scottish Government officials joined the RRG and presented on the Tobacco and Vaping Framework before a discussion took place and highlighted the following points:

  • policy officials confirmed they will revisit and invite the RRG’s feedback on the implementation of any policies introduced as a result of the Marketing and Advertising consultation that took place in 2022. The importance of enforcement and potential additional costs to Local Authorities to ensure compliance was noted.
  • officials confirmed that there is a working group scoping activities on how to deliver the Tobacco Free Scotland by 2034 target focusing on indicators and where the best opportunities are to take action. Consumer Scotland confirmed they would be keen to work with policy officials to support this work.
  • it was agreed having a coordinated approach to achieve the desired outcomes of the framework is required, also ensuring alignment with other policies impacting on businesses affected by any measures introduced. Members agreed the Tobacco and Vaping Framework is extremely useful in setting the Scottish Government’s intended policy direction, however, there is a need for clearer timescales for implementation. Members asked that further detail be provided at the earliest opportunity, particularly where the Scottish Government intends to take forward regulation to shape behaviours. 
  • members highlighted that any measures introduced will affect many businesses which have introduced the sale of vapes to their establishment as part of their business model and not previously had to comply with tobacco policies. There are also many businesses now established solely for the purpose of selling vapes and vaping products. It was noted that there may be a high cost to business to comply with new measures put into place and early engagement on any detailed proposals with business, regulatory stakeholders and the RRG is essential.

Professor Griggs advised that the RRG would write to the relevant Scottish Government Director to set out its advice on the approach to policy development in this area and how implementation challenges can be mitigated through effective design.

Next meeting and any other business

In line with the agreed Work Programme, Professor Griggs confirmed that policy officials developing the Heat in Buildings Bill would be invited to the next meeting on 25 January 2024. The session will include a presentation on the policy topic, its development and discussion around practical implementation challenges and how these can be overcome. The Secretariat will issue invitations on behalf of the RRG at the earliest opportunity.

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