Page last updated at 17:09 GMT, Friday, 20 November 2009

Whisky body backs safe drinking

Whisky bottles
Whisky adverts will carry a responsible drinking message

A responsible drinking message is to be included in all future adverts and printed point of sale materials for Scotch whisky, it has been announced.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) is imposing the measure to help discourage the misuse of alcohol and help tackle Scotland's problem drinking culture.

The responsible drink plea will be seen across the EU.

The SWA also supported most of the Scottish Alcohol Bill, but put forward an alternative minimum pricing plan.

The body proposed that a ban on alcohol sales below tax (duty and VAT) to prevent loss-leading would be an alternative and better floor price mechanism than the Scottish government's minimum price proposal.

However, a government spokesman said that although it welcomed SWA's backing for responsible drinking, a minimum pricing policy was important.

Code of practice

He added: "A ban on selling alcohol below tax would not stop three-litre bottles of strong white cider being sold for £3 or large bottles of low-grade vodka selling for under £7. Minimum pricing would.

"Health experts - including all four UK Chief Medical Officers - are clear that minimum pricing will reduce consumption among problem drinkers, reducing alcohol-related deaths and illnesses. The same experts agree that industry self-regulation is much less effective."

Gavin Hewitt, the SWA's chief executive, said Scotch whisky distillers were determined to tackle alcohol misuse and support "much of what is likely to be in the forthcoming Scottish Government's Alcohol Bill".

He added: "An even tougher SWA code of practice - with a responsible drinking message in every Scotch Whisky advert - complements the wide range of initiatives backed by the industry.

"We also believe a floor price mechanism to tackle loss-leading could be introduced in the form of a ban on alcohol sales below tax. This would be a better way forward than an illegal mechanism such as minimum pricing."

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