Scottish gov urged to throw out ‘ludicrous’ anti-advertising plans

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Own goal: advertising proposals would affect sporting events as well (credit: Getty/ferrantraite)
Own goal: advertising proposals would affect sporting events as well (credit: Getty/ferrantraite)

Related tags Finance Health and safety Social responsibility Legislation Licensing Sport Branding + marketing

Proposed restrictions on alcohol advertising would damage the hospitality sector for generations and the “ludicrous” plans should be thrown out, according to trade bodies in Scotland.

UKHospitality Scotland (UKHS) and the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) have both weighed in on the Scottish government’s Restricting alcohol advertising and promotion​ consultation with one claiming “almost no one will benefit” from the move.

Ideas on restricting advertising include banning alcohol advertising on sporting merchandise, restricting promotions at events such as music festivals, on public transport, shopping centres and at pubs and restaurants. Along with prohibiting the sale of T-shirts, caps and glasses with alcohol brands on them and requiring alcohol behind tills at shops to be covered as with tobacco products now.

UKHS warned if implemented, the proposals would dramatically increase costs for businesses and significantly impact trading, risking business failure and job losses, and lead to less choice for consumers such as smaller and newer brands being unable to promote themselves.

It added this would also hit low and no alcohol drinks brands, damage the tourist experience and leave huge financial gaps for major and community sporting and music events.

Self-inflicted harm

UKHS executive director Leon Thompson said: “It cannot be overstated how wide-ranging and damaging these proposals would be to hospitality businesses, if implemented. It would be a self-inflicted act of harm that would damage our sector for generations.

“The Scottish government needs to recognise our businesses already work to some of the toughest licensing laws anywhere and take their responsibilities incredibly seriously. Marketing and promotion is already, rightly, heavily regulated but these proposals have ignored this and, as a consequence, risk serious harm to one of Scotland’s most successful sectors.

“Almost no one benefits from this. Businesses, consumers and the Scottish economy will suffer as a result. There is also no evidence that these restrictions will achieve the Scottish Government’s public health objectives.”

Meanwhile, the SBPA has urged the next First Minister to throw out the proposals on alcohol advertising as consultation closed this week.

Concerns from SNP candidates

Both leading candidates to be the next SNP leader and First Minister, Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes have highlighted concerns regarding the proposed measures that would destroy the Scottish brewing and distilling industry, and would have widespread negative ramifications for tourism, sport, events, and the economy. 

SBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin OBE said: “This poorly conceived consultation was entirely unbalanced, at odds with wider government goals and policies, and refused to acknowledge the economic, social, historic and cultural importance of the brewing, distilling and hospitality sector. 

“It is encouraging to hear the SNP leadership candidates have some understanding of this potential damage and are committed to a rethink.

“The beer and pub sector remains steadfast in its commitment to responsible consumption and reducing health harms, but we strongly urge the new First Minister, once elected, to quickly throw out these ludicrous proposals and instead look to targeted interventions and partnership working with key stakeholders.”

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