WSTA Response to Government Consultation on the Alcohol Strategy

prpic6Responding to the Government’s Alcohol Strategy consultation, WSTA Chief Executive Miles Beale said:

"It is hard to understand why the Government is pushing ahead with the consultation now, when there is a wall of opposition in Europe, a legal challenge in Scotland, a lack of any real evidence to support minimum unit pricing, opposition from consumers and concerns raised from within Cabinet itself."

“Minimum unit pricing and the proposed restrictions to promotions are wholly untargeted and will unfairly punish millions of consumers and businesses in the UK, while doing nothing to tackle the root causes of alcohol misuse or associated crime and disorder.

"However, we do welcome the Government’s decision to consult on its Alcohol Strategy over a 10-week period. This avoids the busiest time of year for our members and recognises the new and contentious nature of the proposals – in particular, promotions restrictions and minimum unit pricing.

“Alcohol misuse is a serious and complex problem for a small number of people in this country. We recognise this and are committed to tackling alcohol misuse – but there is no silver bullet.  A wide range of policies are required to address problem drinking, including improving education, better enforcement and building on what already works.”

Minimum Unit Pricing

“Minimum unit pricing will punish responsible consumers with higher prices, hitting the poorest hardest and will do nothing to address the causes of alcohol misuse.

“The Government’s own figures demonstrate that progress is being made, with total alcohol consumption, average weekly consumption and the proportion of people drinking over the recommended weekly limits all falling since 2005. Given this positive direction of travel it raises serious questions about why the Government is insistent on pushing ahead with its plans for minimum unit pricing in the face of industry, consumer and legal opposition.”

“There is no evidence that minimum unit pricing will tackle alcohol misuse – in fact the international evidence suggests that problem drinkers are the least likely to be deterred by price rises.”

Promotions restrictions:

“There is no compelling evidence linking retailer promotions with alcohol misuse – indeed overall levels of alcohol consumption are falling.  The most recent evaluation[1] of the ‘multi-buy’ ban in Scotland showed that it has had no significant impact on alcohol sales.  This raises serious doubts about the effectiveness of a promotions ban in reducing alcohol misuse.

“The drinks industry is committed to tackling alcohol misuse. This idea of a promotions ban is another distraction which threatens to side-line proven and effective industry measures to tackle the problem, for example Community Alcohol Partnerships.”


Notes to Editors:

[1] The Scottish Government introduced a quantity discounts ban in Scotland on 1 October 2011.  The ban prevents off-trade retailers from offering discounts on multi-buy purchases such as ‘3 for 2’ or ‘25% off when you buy 6’. An analysis of its impact was published by NHS Health Scotland in June 2012.

The report found that in the 33 week period since the ban was introduced the quantity discounts ban had not had a significant impact on sales in Scotland. __________________________________________________________

The WSTA is the UK lobbying organisation for the wine and spirit industry representing over 340 companies producing, importing, transporting and selling wines and spirits. We campaign to promote the industry’s interests with governments at home and abroad.  We work with our members to promote the responsible production, marketing and sale of alcohol.

For more information please contact Aileen Keyes:

Tel:      +44 (0) 20 7089 3881 Mob:    +44 (0) 7504 498 656 Email:  [email protected]

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