Scottish first minister Humza Yousaf has revealed that proposals to restrict alcohol marketing, which could have seen shops forced introduce cigarette-style restrictions by keeping booze behind cupboard doors, have been “sent back to the drawing board”.
The Holyrood consultation, “Restricting alcohol advertising and promotion”, was headed up by MSP Maree Todd and set out why the Government wanted to cut down the industry’s ability to market itself in order to “reduce the appeal of alcohol to our young people”.
It also included restrictions on print and online advertising, along with alcohol visibility at sporting and music events.
In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, Yousaf said: “The aim of this consultation – to reduce the harm caused by alcohol to children – is admirable. I support it wholeheartedly.
“But it is clear that some of the proposals have caused real concern to an industry which is already facing challenges on multiple fronts.
“I have therefore instructed my officials to take these ideas back to the drawing board, and to work with the industry, and with public health stakeholders, to agree a new set of proposals.
“I believe that all of us want to reduce the harm caused by alcohol, particularly to young people but without undermining Scotland’s world-class drinks industry or tourism sector. I am hopeful that by taking a fresh look at this issue, we can find a way forward which achieves both of those aims.”
The decision follows a major industry campaign against the proposals, including a united front from advertising bodies and media organisations.
Last month, the Advertising Association, ISBA and the IPA, which represent their members in Scotland, took the unprecedented step of issuing a joint public statement, alongside the Marketing Society Scotland, the British Promotional Merchandise Association, the Cinema Advertising Association and the UK Cinema Association, the Scottish Newspaper Society, and Outsmart.
It stated: “The proposals set out… will be harmful to the Scottish economy – including local communities – to Scotland’s advertising and creative industries, and to the Scottish media including publishers, broadcasters and cinemas, as well as the outdoor advertising sector. At the end of the day, we are talking about an impact on Scottish businesses, Scottish jobs and Scottish communities for no discernible benefit.
“We call for a fundamental re-think of the proposals with a focus on targeted and practical policies that will facilitate behaviour change without damaging the Scottish economy and the advertising and creative industries that are important to the entrepreneurial Scotland that the Scottish Government wants to see.”
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