The government is switching the focus to the off-trade in its war against binge drinking, say trade figures who took part in an alcohol debate with Tony Blair.
Ministers at the Institute for Public Policy Research seminar at Diageo’s London HQ warned the off-trade must start showing it was taking the issue seriously, or face more legislation.
A stricter code on alcohol advertising, health notices about sensible consumption in supermarket aisles, unit labelling and donations from drinks suppliers towards health projects were some of the voluntary measures discussed.
Suppliers could also be asked not to manufacture new products which might appeal to underage drinkers.
Another government meeting is scheduled for June and ministers stressed they wanted supermarkets to attend.
Tony Mair, corporate affairs director with Diageo GB, which last year launched the first responsible drinking TV ad, said Blair advocated a voluntary approach.
“Home Office minister Hazel Blears made the point that it would be wrong to pinpoint the pubs as where all the solutions will be found,” he said.
Mair said that he welcomed current advertising codes being reviewed and more unit labelling. But he stressed that the industry already contributed huge sums to the Treasury in duty which could be diverted for alchohol education.
Wine & Spirit Association director Quentin Rappoport said that a code of practice on promotions for the off-trade was just weeks away.
“Everyone agrees on the problem and is prepared to see how they can work together to find solutions,” he said.
Claire Hu