September 21, 2009
just-drinks.com editor's weekly highlights
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Two issues last week show quite clearly the pressure being exerted on our industry outside of the economic downturn.
In the US, a health commissioner led the call for the introduction of heavier taxes on soft drinks which are high in sugar, as a way of combating the obesity epidemic. Taxes on CSDs in the majority of the US states are currently too low to curb consumption, said New York City health commissioner Dr Thomas Farley.
The call for higher taxes is a well-worn path and one that most maintain is an ineffective approach to an issue. The hike in cigarette prices on mainland Europe in recent years is a strong example of this failed strategy. Most clearly, however, such calls from experts indicate the failure of our own industry to engage with such figures.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, the issue of minimum pricing for alcohol as a means of curbing excessive consumption took a positive – albeit predictable – twist, when the UK's Office of Fair Trading voiced its opposition to the matter.
The legalities of imposing minimum pricing have always made the introduction of such measures impractical. However, the “solution's” ability to attract headlines will keep it at the forefront of the debate on alcohol abuse as politicians and lobby groups look to maintain the pressure for calls for legislation to curb drinking.
Again, it is vital that our industry continues to take a positive and proactive role in this debate and avoids being dragged into an ugly war of words. Education of consumers and legislators remains key.
And as for the opening day of the Oktoberfest? Well, photographic evidence can be found here, but let me just say that if it's not on your 'Things to do before you die' list, then it certainly should be.
Until next time...
Olly Wehring, Managing Editor
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The call last week by the British Medical Association (BMA) for an outright ban on alcohol advertising appeared to have little support in political circles or the media. Most crucially for the industry, it was rejected out of hand by the Conservative Party. With the Tories a racing certainty to take power in the next General Election, Ben Cooper casts an eye over Conservative thinking on alcohol policy.
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