‘Damaging consequences' if Scottish Government pushes ahead alcohol advertising ban

14 March 2023 by
‘Damaging consequences' if Scottish Government pushes ahead alcohol advertising ban

The Scottish Government's proposed ban on alcohol advertising could have "damaging consequences", the Scottish Licenced Trade Association (SLTA) has said after a consultation closed last week.

Industry bodies have urged the government to throw out proposals, which bring about restrictions similar to those limiting the advertising of tobacco. The legislation would prevent alcohol being advertised on television, outdoor billboards and through sports and events sponsorship. There is also a proposal to prevent distilleries and breweries from selling branded merchandise.

Peter Lederer, patron of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said there would be "damaging consequences" if the Scottish Government pushed ahead with the ban, which he said would impact the entire alcohol industry "not just brewers, distillers, but the pubs, bars, restaurants and tourism venues that are the creaking backbone of our hospitality industry".

The STLA pointed to the consequences for Scottish pubs, bars and clubs which use branded materials – such as glasses, beer mats and umbrellas – to reduce costs. If restrictions are imposed on alcohol advertising, then major changes to the ways hospitality businesses operate would be required.

Lederer said the ban would also detrimentally impact sport and events sponsorship, and pointed to the "central" role played by alcohol brands in bringing the 2014 Ryder Cup held to Gleneagles and making it a "great success", with a estimated £106m boost to tourism.

Emma McClarkin, CEO of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, also voiced her concern. McClarkin said: "If enacted, the proposals would have a catastrophic impact not just for Scottish producers, but for so many other vital sectors that are engines of economic growth. This would include our tourism industry as well as sports clubs and associations, from professional to grassroots community level. Our cultural sector, theatres and cinemas would also come under additional pressure as well as public transport providers."

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

McClarkin added: "It is encouraging to hear the SNP leadership candidates have some understanding of this potential damage and are committed to a rethink […] 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."

Stephen Montgomery, spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group and owner of the Townhead hotel in Lockerbie, told The Caterer: "How can we market a product without advertising? It's going back to prohibition times. Education is key to tackling alcohol related issues in Scotland. That's what is needed to tackle alcoholism not hitting the hospitality industry."

Image: Shutterstock

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