The European Spirits Organisation (CEPS) has announced the adoption of its first ever CEPS charter on responsible alcohol consumption. The move, confirmed on Friday (2 December), comes at a time when the European Commission intends to formulate a community strategy to reduce alcohol-related harm by spring 2006, the organisation said.

"CEPS has maintained a high degree of contact with the European Directorate General for Health and Consumer Affairs (SANCO) throughout the consultation process and, given the long-standing commitment of the European spirits industry to the responsible marketing of spirit drinks and the encouragement of moderate alcohol consumption, the CEPS Charter illustrates the determination of the industry to make self regulation work," the organisation added.

CEPS director general, Jamie Fortescue, said: "This is a very significant step which goes well beyond any existing EU wide commitments in the alcohol sector. The obligation to report back annually on progress is also a first and clearly illustrates the spirits industry's long term commitment to responsible behaviour and making our progress measurable."

Among the elements of the charter are:
• By 2010, 75% of advertising (print including billboards, TV/cinema and website) will carry responsible drinking messages.
• CEPS members will adhere to and abide by a universal standard on commercial communications and new products on the market will undergo even more intense scrutiny to ensure marketing is carried out responsibly.
• The industry will increase investment in promoting Retail and Server Training Schemes and Drink Driving programmes.
• The industry will work with other stakeholders to define clearly what is meant by sensible drinking levels and then communicate the information widely.
• The industry has also committed to draw up a comprehensive annual report from now until 2010 emphasising where progress has been made and improvement needed against precise targets set.

The membership of CEPS comprises of 36 national associations representing the industry in 27 countries, as well as a group of leading spirits-producing companies.