UK: WSTA defends industry "influence" on minimum pricing U-turn
The WSTA called the report "one-sided"
The Wine and Spirit Trade Association has branded as “fundamentally flawed” a report by senior doctors that claims the UK Government was “subverted” by the drinks industry over a U-turn on minimum pricing.
The British Medical Journal (BMJ) article, released today (8 January), said the drinks industry has met with officials 130 times since the UK Coalition Government came to power in 2010. In contrast, the investigation said, health campaigners keen to see a minimum price implemented to curb alcohol-related deaths were barred from putting forward their case.
The report, called 'Under the Influence', also accused UK authorities of suppressing vital information that backed campaigners' views.
The UK Goverment last July announced it was shelving plans to introduce a minimum unit price on alcohol based on a lack of evidence the measure would tackle alcohol-related problems.
Miles Beale, the WSTA's chief executive, said today that the BMJ report “provides a one-sided view of the minimum unit pricing debate”.
Beale said: “It is entirely appropriate that businesses and trade associations have the opportunity to hold dialogue with Government. That is why the WSTA and our members meet regularly with a number of government departments on a range of diverse issues.”
Beale added that authorities were right not to introduce the minimum pricing policy “given the lack of evidence to show that (it) would effectively tackle alcohol misuse”.
Plans for Scotland to introduce a minimum price per unit on alcohol are currently on hold because of an on-going legal challenge by the drinks industry.
The Scotch Whisky Association today also rebuffed the BMJ study, saying it often meets with health authorities “at the request of officials as part of on-going dialogue on the UK Government alcohol strategy”.
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