The reigning king of Formula One racing, Lewis Hamilton has joined a campaign against the Scottish Government's proposed crackdown on alcohol.
In a move calculated to pile pressure on ministers, drinks firm Diageo has hired Hamilton to promote its message of encouraging responsible alcohol use rather than the "Draconian" and "blanket" approach of the Government.
AdvertisementThe driver, in an exclusive interview with Scotland on Sunday, said it was better to make people aware of the dangers of alcohol, as "no one likes being told what to do".
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has declared war on Scotland's booze culture, proposing to raise the minimum age for buying drink in off-licences from 18 to 21, introduce alcohol-only checkouts in supermarkets, set minimum prices and end two-for-one deals.
There are also plans to make pubs and clubs pay a 'social responsibility fee' for the policing of antisocial behaviour in hotspot areas.
The SNP is expected shortly to unveil its final proposals for tackling problem drinking, which is estimated to cost Scotland 2.25 billion pounds a year.
But the drinks industry and supermarkets are vigorously opposed to many of the proposals.
Diageo, maker of Johnnie Walker and owner of brands such as Guinness and Smirnoff, last night revealed that 24-year-old Hamilton had joined its campaign.
Hamilton said: " We're not telling people not to drink, just to make sure that they make the right decisions. There are some youngsters out there for whom I'm a sort of role model so hopefully they'll look at me and see what is good for me can be good for them."
"I'm in a position where I am able to get a positive message out and, hopefully, youngsters will listen to what I have to say because behaving responsibly with alcohol is a part of my life too," the Scotsman quoted him, as saying.
Hamilton, however, was careful not to directly criticize the Scottish Government.
Rachael Robertson, head of government affairs at Diageo, said: "Lewis Hamilton is a big role model. We can use the skills we employ to sell our product to push the message of responsible drinking, to change attitudes towards alcohol and its misuse."
A 10,000-signature petition has been handed in to parliament, objecting to the ban on selling alcohol to under-21s and there is an online campaign to fight the proposals.
Retailers are also preparing to take the Scottish Government to court over plans to introduce a minimum pricing policy.
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