UK: Alcohol debate becoming polarised - trade chief
Campaign groups seeking ever greater extremes are distorting the debate over how to tackle excess drinking in the UK, the head of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association has warned.
There is a climate of prohibition creeping into rhetoric used by groups campaigning for tougher measures on alcohol sales and promotion, Jeremy Beadles, CEO of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), said today (16 September).
"My fear is that the debate is getting too polarised. We are not looking at the real things in the middle," he told the WSTA Autumn Conference, attended by a wide range of retailers, producers and suppliers, as well as Government representatives.
Beadles' comments follow a report by the British Medical Association (BMA), published last week and calling for a total ban on alcohol promotion, minimum pricing on drinks, shorter licensing hours and a levy on drinks firms to pay for education for young people on responsible drinking.
Industry bodies rejected the BMA recommendations.
"The effectiveness of our regulatory work has been recognised by several independent and authoritative bodies," said David Poley, CEO of the Portman Group, the industry's self-regulatory body.
Last week, just-drinks revealed that the Office of Fair Trading has strongly voiced its opposition to the Scottish Government's plan to set a minimum price per unit of alcohol in drinks.
Opposition from the watchdog could significantly dent plans to introduce minimum pricing.
Beadles confirmed at the WSTA conference today that he believes any attempt to introduce pricing, ban promotions or introduce a "social responsibility" levy in Scotland will be met by legal challenges.
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