Talks planned

Alcohol marketing back on government agenda

Bottles of alcohol
Ministers want to tackle alcohol-related health issues

The Scottish Government is to resume talks on marketing of alcohol just months after business leaders condemned the plan as unworkable and damaging.

Public health stakeholders and the alcohol industry will be consulted early next year to discuss ways of limiting young people’s exposure to alcohol promotions.

The development follows publication of the Government’s recent analysis on restricting alcohol advertising and promotions.

The report shows the majority of individuals and most organisations with links to the alcohol industry thought the proposals as set out “would not achieve the intended outcomes of reducing alcohol consumption and alcohol harm, and/or were disproportionate to the scale of the problem.”

However, there were high levels of agreement with the proposals among public health, third sector, local authorities and academic organisations.

Following targeted stakeholder engagement, the public will be asked for their views on a narrower range of proposals which take into account the views expressed and international public health evidence, including a recommendation from the World Health Organization (WHO) that restricting alcohol marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways of tackling alcohol harm.

Drugs and Alcohol Policy Minister Elena Whitham said: “My sympathy goes to all those affected by the loss of a loved one through alcohol. We’re determined to reduce the harm caused by alcohol, particularly to young people, while minimising any impacts on Scotland’s world class drinks industry or tourism sector.

“International evidence shows that alcohol marketing increases the likelihood that children and young people will start to drink alcohol or, if they already drink alcohol, drink more, while young people and their families have told us that they want us to take action.

“While almost all responses to the consultation acknowledged that children and young people should not be exposed to alcohol advertising and promotions, it is clear there are a range of views on how this might be achieved.

“Since the consultation was launched, the First Minister and other Ministers have engaged with a wide range of businesses and stakeholders.

“So we will continue to engage with all interested parties on specific, narrower, proposals that meet our aims. I’m confident this collaborative approach will ensure that we develop policies understanding the full range of opportunities and impacts.”

The consultation on restricting alcohol advertising and promotions ran from November 2022 – March 2023. It received 2,408 personalised responses from 1,985 individuals and 423 organisations. It also received 585 responses through campaigns organised by the Campaign for Real Ale and the Scottish Beer and Pub Association.

Respondents were asked for their views about the marketing of alcohol in a variety of settings, including sports and cultural events, outdoor and public spaces, retail, print and online media, television and radio and cinemas.

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