Alcohol advertising and promotion consultation: stakeholder engagement summary - 26 January 2023

Minutes from the ministerial roundtable with alcohol producers and hospitality stakeholders on 26 January 2023 to discuss the consultation on potential restrictions to alcohol advertising and promotion.

Attendees and apologies

  • Maree Todd MSP, Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport

  • Richard Foggo, Director of Population Health, Scottish Government

  • Scottish Government officials

  • AB InBev    

  • Aston Manor Cider    

  • Beam Suntory                       

  • Brown-Forman                     

  • C and C Group    

  • Chivas Brothers

  • Diageo    
  • Glenmorangie              
  • Heineken UK    
  • Innis and Gunn     
  • Molson Coors    
  • Scotch Whisky Association     
  • Scottish Alcohol Industry Partnership    
  • Scottish Beer and Pub Association     
  • Edrington (remote)

Items and actions

The Minister thanked attendees for their time and opened the meeting with an explanation of the purpose of the roundtable. Officials then provided an overview of the consultation.

Concerns were outlined by attendees that the consultation is far reaching and has led to deep concern from industry about the potential impact of proposals. Attendees noted that the current self-regulatory system is mandatory for all alcohol producers and, in their view, robust. 

The Minister highlighted the problem Scotland continues to have with alcohol harm despite the current self-regulatory system. Children and young people are highly exposed to alcohol advertising in Scotland.

The Minister noted that she has no intention of harming the alcohol industry and that the purpose of this consultation is to draw out all views to better understand any potential impacts of the proposals.

The Minister added that the consultation is an early first step prior to any proposals for potential restrictions.

Attendees acknowledged that recent figures (including alcohol specific deaths) were concerning, however, disagreed on restricting advertising being the best approach to tackle this. Attendees suggested a more targeted approach to the smaller cohort of harmful drinkers could be more effective than a whole population approach, which could have a number of unintended consequences on industry.

The Minister stated that any action to restrict alcohol advertising is not a silver bullet and that this forms part of a comprehensive approach including tackling poverty and providing accessible and high-quality alcohol treatment. 

The Minister stated that restricting alcohol advertising and promotion is one the World Health Organization’s three most cost-effective interventions to prevent and reduce alcohol-related harms.

Attendees noted that recent figures show children and young people are drinking less, despite alcohol advertising spend increasing, but were disappointed that this was not reflected within the consultation.

The Minister stated that the Scottish Government (SG) are happy to look at all evidence and that it would be useful if attendees could share data to ensure that all potential economic impacts are well evidenced. The SG can then take account of this in looking to any next steps.

Attendees highlighted concerns about being asked to declare any interests with the alcohol industry and asked why this had been included in the consultation. 

Officials stressed that this was an administrative point and that there is no hierarchy of responses or voices. No changes could be made to the consultation question at this stage but their concerns would be taken into account for future consultations.

Attendees raised the potential impacts that proposals could have on local communities (e.g. local sports team sponsorship or employment opportunities), as well as social and cultural impacts across Scotland.

Attendees were concerned about the possibility of displacement of alcohol sponsorship to other industries that has the potential to cause more harm (e.g. social media industry). 

The Minister urged stakeholders to respond in full to the consultation highlighting these potential impacts and committed to engaging with attendees post-consultation.

The Minister said that economic data from attendees would help to better understand potential economic impacts of proposals but understood the issues around commercial sensitivities.

SG officials to provide information on sources of evidence within the consultation.

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