WSTA calls for fundamental rethink on alcohol strategy consultation

Miles Beale’s letter to the Editor of The Telegraph – 25 October 2012

With news that the government is working with the food industry over food labelling, it is a pity they will not take the same approach with the drinks industry.

Until today we had expected consultation on the alcohol strategy this week. Courtesy of this newspaper, we now know the consultation is being delayed until November. Irrespective of the timing, we still have no information about the practical plans for the consultation or its content.

In the last month the evidence, impact and timing of the consultation have all been questioned. An Institute of Economic Affairs report has provided convincing evidence that high prices fail to reduce consumption, and instead encourage a black market. Sheffield University - the government’s key source for statistics on minimum unit pricing - has admitted errors in its calculations on the impact of MUP on preventable deaths and the most recent evaluation of the multi-buy ban in Scotland showed that it has had no significant impact.

In addition, the faltering start of proceedings in Scotland on the legality of MUP, alongside objections from five EU members states, are likely to herald a legal battle that could delay implementation for years.  

As a former civil servant I know the importance of a robust evidence base for public policy making. I also know that, ultimately, government and industry need to work together to combat alcohol misuse, which is a significant problem for a small part of our population.

With alcohol consumption falling across the board, now is not the time for consultation but for a fundamental rethink.

Miles Beale, Chief Executive, Wine and Spirit Trade Association


For more information please contact Aileen Keyes:
Tel:         +44 (0) 20 7089 3881
Mob:      +44 (0) 7504 498 656
Email:     [email protected]k



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