Industry bodies unite to condemn proposed blanket ban on alcohol advertising

Trade associations representing the alcohol and retail sectors have joined forces to condemn the Scottish Government’s ‘draconian’ proposals for a blanket ban on alcohol advertising and promotion.

“The measures as they stand will needlessly hold our country back, to the detriment of Scottish society – restricting consumer choice, increasing costs, and threatening the thriving economic contribution of our sector to the wider community,” declared the newly formed Scottish Alcohol Industry Partnership.

This coalition involves nine trade bodies representing beer, wine, and spirits producers and retailers, plus the Retail of Alcohol Standards Group, all signatories to a joint letter warning that, if the proposals go ahead, they will cause significant harm to Scotland’s businesses and push up prices for consumers.

This industry intiative follows a similar open letter, sent earlier this month from Scotland’s most iconic distilleries and brewers, voicing concern that banning alcohol from sponsoring sports and cultural events and removing branding from pubs could destroy Scotland’s globally celebrated drinks industry.

SAIP stressed that, above all, there was no evidence these economically damaging moves would actually do anything to reduce harmful drinking.

“There is no specific evidence which shows that restricting the ability to promote and responsibly market products, including low and no alcohol products, in store, will lead to a reduction in alcohol sales or alcohol consumption,” read the SAIP letter.

“Retailers throughout Scotland go to great lengths to ensure that they have the correct licences to retail alcohol, that products are labelled according to UK labelling requirements, that products are placed in stipulated areas as per the Premises Licence and that products are sold for at least the minimum unit price.

“Moving alcohol to the back of stores or to closed off areas will hinder a store’s ability to comply with the licensing objective of preventing crime as colleagues at the tills would not be able to visually monitor those areas.”

The letter points out that it’s not just businesses which will suffer from the draconian measures.

“Today, in a cost-of-living crisis that is placing immense strain on household budgets, the retail sector is striving to ensure minimal cost increases to our customers. This may not be possible with the restrictions suggested by the Scottish Government.

“It would cost a minimum of £15k a time to relay smaller convenience stores and £25k a time for larger stores, even with no new equipment. Some retailers have suggested costs could be significantly more. With the suggestions of installing barriers, moving alcohol away from windowed areas, enclosing alcohol behind opaque doors or even having a closed off and separate area within stores for alcohol, retailers would incur very substantial costs when their top priority is seeking savings that they could pass on to customers.”

The letter concludes: “We urge the Scottish Government to listen to the concerns of the retail industry regarding the significant impact these measures will have not only on the alcohol industry but also on the thousands of workers it supports in wider Scottish society.”

The open letter was signed by the following bodies – Adult Non-Alcoholic Beverage Association; Association of Convenience Stores, Retail of Alcohol Standards Group, Scottish Alcohol Industry Partnership, Scotch Whisky Association; Scottish Beer and Pub Association; Scottish Grocers’ Federation; Scottish Retail Consortium; Scottish Wholesale Association; The Society of Independent Brewers; and the Wine & Spirit Trade Association