Drinks industry agrees to new pledges under Responsibility Deal

By Ellie Bothwell contact

- Last updated on GMT

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The new pledges are in addition to the eight core pledges already made as part of the Deal
The new pledges are in addition to the eight core pledges already made as part of the Deal
Trade bodies have agreed to a new set of pledges under the Responsibility Deal, including providing training for 10,000 bar staff and offering lower alcohol wines and beers, following an industry summit with Government ministers yesterday.

Drinks companies, brewers, and trade associations have committed to six new pledges to help deliver on the promise to remove a billion units of alcohol by the end of 2015 to help tackle alcohol-related harm.

The new pledges, which are in addition to the eight core alcohol pledges already made as part of the Public Health Responsibility Deal, include:

  • supporting local areas through targeted partnership schemes for areas with high alcohol-related harms
  • reviewing the number of alcohol units contained in cans of carbonated products so they do not contain more than four units of alcohol
  • providing training for 10,000 bar staff in the responsible retailing of alcohol
  • providing £250,000 funding for an independent alcohol education trust
  • committing to offer lower alcohol house wines (below 12.5%) and no-alcohol beers in pubs
  • introducing new good practice guidance for the responsible retailing of alcohol in the off-trade

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) said the body and its members will take action through the on-trade to help deliver the promises. It has also committed to offering at least one non/lower alcohol beer at each of its events; organising one event per year specifically focused on non and lower alcohol beers, aimed at consumer and health media; and showcasing non and lower alcohol beers on the Beer Genie website and through the Let There Be Beer Campaign.

The BBPA is also contributing £50,000 through the industry’s grants fund, over two years to a new education pledge. Its objective is to provide a start-up fund for LEAF (Lifeskills Education and Alcohol Foundation) to establish programmes in a number of schools in its first two years.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: “Alcohol-fuelled harm costs taxpayers £21 billion a year. It is therefore right that the alcohol industry is taking action to help reduce this burden, without penalising those that drink responsibly.

“The government welcomes the progress the alcohol industry has made so far in responding to the challenge we set them.

“We now look forward to seeing the positive impact of these pledges and continuing to work with industry to explore what else can be done to tackle alcohol abuse.”

Responses from the industry

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive, British Beer & Pub Association

“This new commitment from the on-trade builds on the positive action already being achieved, with some great examples from our members to build on. It shows that Government support for partnership, through initiatives like this, delivers real results.”

“I also raised with Ministers, the need for changes to the ASA Advertising Codes, which currently do not allow us to promote lower-strength products in advertising campaigns. I would very much welcome their support, so we can make progress.”

Miles Beal, chief executive, Wine and Spirits Trade Association

“Tackling alcohol-related harm is a key priority for the drinks industry and we are pleased that WSTA members have taken a leading role in developing a further set of practical measures designed to tackle the complex problem of alcohol misuse in the UK. 

“The commitment to develop good practice guidance for the responsible retailing of alcohol represents an unprecedented level of co-operation between retailers.

“These exciting pledges show that by working with industry the Government can achieve a great deal as we continue to build a culture of more responsible drinking in the UK.”  

James Lowman, chief executive, Association of Convenience Stores

“In recent years we have seen retailers taking action both in store and within their local communities to address issues of alcohol-related harm. ACS has a proud record of promoting local initiatives such as Community Alcohol Partnerships, and we are playing a full part in supporting the Government’s Local Alcohol Action Areas. We are committed to driving up standards through promoting best practice and responsible retailing and will support the work of Retail Alcohol Standards Group in doing this.’

Catherine May, corporate affairs director, SABMiller

“Bar, pub and off-licence staff can play a hugely important role in preventing under-age drinking and anti-social behaviour in their local areas - but facing these situations can be intimidating and they need the knowledge and confidence to be able to deal with them. Since 2009 we’ve helped train more than 4,000 of these front-line workers in responsible alcohol retailing and today we’re delighted to be able to extend this pledge further and commit to providing 10,000 people access to the same nationally-recognised qualification by 2016."

“We are committed to promoting responsible drinking, including through the marketing of our products, providing information and choice to our consumers, and supporting alcohol education. 

Inge Plochaet, president, AB InBev UK & Ireland

“Tackling alcohol misuse is a complex challenge which we believe is best done by working in partnership.  We are therefore announcing our commitment to extend our support for alcohol education through our partnership with the Alcohol Education Trust, and to dedicate resources to helping tackle problem drinking in Local Alcohol Action Areas.  We are also signing up to the new packaging pledge which will limit the number of units in a can to four.”

Sir Martin Narey, chairman, Portman Group

“In my first year as Chair I've been very encouraged by the preparedness of producers to act to reduce the harm caused by alcohol misuse, demonstrating they are brave enough to do more than simply offer warm words about responsible drinking. This has required no little courage and leadership on the part of producers.”

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1 comment

Alcohol industry? What's That?

Posted by John Ellis,

Good that the alcohol producers are stepping up to the plate. Where are the supermarkets in this? Strangely quiet, I think.

Another unidentified figure of "alcohol-fuelled harm" (now £21 billion) from Teresa May. Can she justify this? Editor, please enquire!!

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