Blog: Olly WehringFighting the tide of legislation in the UK?

Olly Wehring | 22 July 2008

Answer me this, would you? How inevitable, really, is it that the level of legislation affecting alcoholic drinks producers operating in the UK is set to rise?

Feel free to let me know your thoughts – anonymously, if you prefer. I've spoken to countless execs within the UK drinks industry and, on the record, naturally, not one of them has conceded that it is just a matter of time before the authorities come down harder on them over here.

Today's announcement, however, that the Department of Health in the UK has launched a fresh consultation on drinking culture, suggests that it's more when than if.

I had quite an interesting chat last week with the head of alcohol policy at SABMiller, Kristin Kaplan Wolfe (heads-up: an interview coming up later this month on just-drinks), and she, like everyone else, still maintained that the drinks industry had a case to fight, and was well-placed to resist the heavy rod of legislation.

Do you agree? I'm struggling to. We, as an industry in the UK, have let go of the reins, despite our best intentions. The press may verge on hysteria with their coverage of our binge-drinking culture, but surely there's no smoke without fire?

I hope you'll convince me I – and the UK government, I'll wager – are both wrong.


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