We welcome the Government’s approach to improving public health which favours a partnership approach with industry, rather than trying to force change through the blunt instrument of legislation.
We all share the consequences of alcohol misuse as individuals and as a society: surely it is right that we collectively─ industry, government, business, the third sector and individuals─ share responsibility for changing it. And industry is well-placed to help support people make better, informed decisions about their alcohol consumption.
Public Health Responsibility Deal
At the forefront of the Government’s approach to tackling alcohol misuse is the Public Health Responsibility Deal. Under the Deal, launched in March 2011, government, businesses and NGOs have come together to tackle obesity, alcohol misuse, lack of exercise and health at work through a series of voluntary commitments. The Responsibility Deal presents a valuable opportunity for the industry to build on the good work it has already delivered in recent years to encourage responsible drinking and tackle alcohol harm. At its launch, more than 180 organisations signed up to the Deal as a whole, with 90 businesses supporting seven collective alcohol pledges setting out the action the industry will take.
The WSTA is playing a leading role in shaping the industry’s participation in the Deal and supports and encourages its members to play a full and active part. This has led to the development of a number of pledges aimed at promoting responsible drinking including:
- ·Ensuring that over 80% of products on shelf by December 2013 will have labels with clear unit content, NHS guidelines and a warning about drinking when pregnant;
- ·Ensuring effective action is taken in all premises to reduce and prevent under-age sales of alcohol through rigorous application of Challenge 25;
- Continuing to fund alcohol Charity Drinkaware;
- ·Committing to further action on advertising and marketing, namely the development of a new sponsorship code requiring the promotion of responsible drinking, not putting alcohol adverts on outdoor poster sites within 100m of schools and adhering to the Drinkaware brand guidelines to ensure clear and consistent usage;
- Providing support for schemes for local areas to address issues around social and health harms including Community Alcohol Partnerships;
- Removing 1bn units of alcohol sold annually from the market by December 2015 principally through improving consumer choice of lower alcohol products.
Following the Government’s response to the consultation on the Alcohol Strategy, the WSTA has been working closely with Government and continues to develop further pledges.
The online Department of Health registry provides full details of the Deal pledges and businesses that have formally signed up to the Deal: http://responsibilitydeal.dh.gov.uk/
Labelling of unit and health information
The Responsibility Deal includes an industry agreement to include clear unit labelling, NHS guidelines and a warning about drinking when pregnant on over 80 per cent of alcohol products on shelves by 2013. This pledge builds on the 2007 voluntary agreement the Government reached with the alcohol industry to include alcohol unit and health information on labels of alcoholic drinks. In 2010, there was a government consultation on options for taking the 2007 agreement further, including a strengthened self-regulatory agreement with industry and a mandatory labelling scheme.
In light of the Responsibility Deal commitment, the UK Government and Devolved Administrations have agreed not to pursue the regulatory route on health labelling. Click here for WSTA guidance on the labelling scheme.