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UK: Regulator bans BBPA beer tax advert

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An advert by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has been banned because it wrongly suggested that a third of the price of a pint of beer goes to the Government.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a complaint from a Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) member about the advert, published in "What's Brewing" magazine, a publication for CAMRA.

The advert stated: "The Chancellor takes 33% of a pint of beer and now wants even more. The Government is planning to increase beer tax again on Budget day on 22 April, enough is enough."

The advert then encourages readers to visit www.axethebeertax.com to send an electronic postcard to lobby their MP "before it's too late". The ad showed a pint of beer around two thirds full. Text in the empty top part of the glass stated "33% tax".

The ASA agreed that the ad gave the impression 33% of the price of a pint "in the pub" was tax applied by the Government.

The BBPA has hit out at the ruling, arguing that the ASA has adopted a "limited interpretation" of the advert.

"We believe that the ASA have applied their own particular and limited interpretation of both the advert and what constitutes tax," said acting chief executive David Long.

"Far from intending to mislead people, this advert sought to bring honesty and openness to the debate on the amount of taxes people really pay. As only one person complained about this advert, it seems everyone else understood exactly what we were saying."

CAMRA, which also been involved in the Axe the Beer Tax campaign, said the statement in the advert is "underestimated".

"Ironically the statement that the Chancellor takes 33% of the price of a pint is an underestimate as it is based only on duty and VAT and ignores other taxes, such as business rates and employment taxes, indirectly paid for by the beer drinker," said Jonathan Mail, CAMRA head of policy and public affairs.

He added: "We are bemused at the ASA's decision. We question whether it is appropriate for the ASA to intervene in a legitimate political campaign aimed at exposing the excessive tax burden imposed on beer drinkers."

The ASA said it understood that duty on beer was calculated per hectolitre in terms of the strength of the beer and noted that BBPA had decided to use the average strength of beer sold in the UK in 2008 (4.2% ABV) in their duty calculations.

However, it said that the positioning of the advert in "What's Brewing", showing a two-thirds full pint glass, "reinforced" the idea that it related solely to beer sold in bars and pubs.


Sectors: Beer & cider

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