The updated code will come into effect in May next year

The updated code will come into effect in May next year

Drinks producers operating in the UK have six months to prepare for a new version of the Portman Group code, which includes updated rules on marketing low-alcohol products.

The fifth version of the code, due to take effect from May, is a commitment by the group as part of the UK government's health responsibility deal. A separate code on sponsorship is also being developed, due to be completed by next spring.

The Portman Group's standard updated code includes: 

  • Producers being allowed to “draw attention to products which are below the average strength of similar drinks”. This was banned under the old code.
  • “Images of people who are (or look like they are) under 25 can no longer be featured in a significant role or be seen drinking or holding alcohol”, consistent with Advertising Standards Authority rules. 
  • A tightening of the rules around sexual success. “The rule already prohibits reference to sexual success and will now prohibit any direct or indirect associations with sexual activity” 

Henry Ashworth, the Portman Group's chief executive said that the code's job is to "set the right balance between legitimate marketing activity and public protection, especially of young people" .  

He added: "Tough self-regulation is the most effective way to regulate alcohol marketing and this approach is supported by government and the industry and internationally recognised as a gold standard.”

The new code on sponsorship will mean producers have to promote responsible drinking as an integral part of any sponsorship.