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Alcohol policy / Beer Duty / Corporate Social Responsibility / Regulation / Responsiblity Deal / 23 March 2012

Publication of Government alcohol strategy – BBPA comments

Commenting on the publication of the Government’s alcohol strategy, Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said:

“It’s good to see the Government stating explicitly that it wants to support local pubs. In recent years, we have seen alcohol policy aimed squarely at pubs, when more and more drinking is done at home. Government policies should be designed to encourage responsible drinking of low-strength drinks like beer, in the sociable environment of our pubs.

“We want to work with the Government to tackle alcohol misuse and we will actively engage with them on their plans. Good progress in tackling binge drinking is already being made and it is important further measures are proportionate and target problem drinkers rather than the majority of responsible drinkers and those on low incomes.

“On minimum pricing, we will participate in the consultation, but alcohol consumption has fallen by 13 per cent since 2004 and the numbers who are drinking above the recommended weekly units have fallen by one third. It is vital that it is not pursued through, or result in, higher beer taxation overall so we welcome the announcement to that effect. There are also difficulties over whether it would be in breach of European competition law.

“With the further announcement on removing 1 billion units of alcohol from products, we can already see how the industry and the Government can work successfully together. I am pleased this has such wide support in the brewing sector, with producers representing over 80 per cent of UK beer production signed up to this pledge.

“When it comes to delivering results, brewers have a great track record. Over 90 per cent of bottled or canned beers in Britain have unit information on the packaging. And from 2013, these will display not just alcohol unit labelling, but also government lower-risk drinking guidelines and a pregnancy warning.

“The BBPA and Drinkaware are also working together on a unit awareness campaign for pubs as part of the Responsibility Deal, with materials being rolled out across the on-trade to inform customers of the amount of units in their favourite drinks.

“Our members are involved in a huge range of other initiatives under the Government’s Responsibility Deal pledges. These voluntary agreements can deliver results, and will be a key part of a successful alcohol strategy.”

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