THE leader of Scotland’s biggest licensees’ group has this week called for a ban on price-based alcohol advertising.
Addressing the annual AGM and conference of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association in Aberdeen on Monday (March 5), chief executive Paul Waterson said the move is the next logical step in the fight against alcohol misuse.
“Price-based advertising of alcohol is justified by the industry by saying it’s not aimed at getting people to drink more, but make those who are loyal to one brand switch brand,” he told SLTN before the event.
“But price-based advertising is primarily about driving more volume. If people see that it’s cheaper, they’ll buy more.
“With minimum pricing coming into place, and marketing controls – in terms of certain promotions – already in place, the last bit of the jigsaw is advertising.
“And we think price-based advertising should be banned for these reasons.”
Should minimum pricing survive an expected legal challenge and become reality, Waterson said the mechanism should come with the flexibility to be varied, reflecting the annual cost hikes pubs face through annual brewery rises and other overheads.
“If I were to say minimum pricing will go up 10p a year, it might seem like a lot, but it would only maintain the differential if pubs put the price of a pint up 10p after the price rise from the brewers and other costs go up,” he said.
“There has to be a mechanism to change minimum pricing over time. How we do that is something we have to debate.”
The SLTA was due to report at the AGM that its finances had moved back into the black thanks to contributions from corporate members and the “stabilisation” of its membership. It has also struck a new deal with Giles Insurance Brokers, under which new members receive their first year’s subscription free if they take a policy out with the firm.
“To have stabilised membership and turned a profit from a loss last year is very good at a time like this,” Waterson said.
The SLTA chief also expressed satisfaction at taking the AGM and conference back to Aberdeen for the first time since the Aberdeen City, AB&K (Aberdeenshire, Banffshire and Kircardine) and Moray branches came back into the fold.
The event was held at Douglas Hotel on Market Street.