Alcohol advertising ban: MSPs urged not to ‘destroy Scotland’s drinks industry’

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Leading alcohol makers have sent an open letter to Scottish government warning that current proposals under consultation over advertising ban would destroy the industry.

The open letter was sent by a group of drinks companies, including Budweiser Brewing Group, Lanson Champagne, Diageo, Whyte & Mackay, and Tennent’s Lager, to challenge the Scottish government’s proposed restrictions on alcohol advertising and marketing.

The letter asks MSPs not to “destroy Scotland’s drinks industry” and expresses the companies’ concerns about the potential consequences of the ban.

The government’s consultation, which runs until 9 March, could also see distillery and brewery shops barred from selling branded merchandise to visitors, as well as drinks branding being removed from pub umbrellas and glassware.

The consultation covers a proposed ban on all outdoor advertising of alcohol, including on vehicles and in newspapers and magazines, as well as a ban on the sale of branded merchandise at distillery and brewery shops, and the removal of drinks branding from pub umbrellas and glassware.

The companies argue that these measures would result in a “blanket ban on alcohol advertising and sponsorship” in Scotland, which would harm the industry with “no clear evidence to justify such a move.”

They claim that the ban could not have come at a worse time for the sector, as it has already suffered greatly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the current cost-of-living crisis threatens the very existence of some firms.

“Restricting the ability to promote and market products responsibly will remove a vital route to market and go against the Scottish Government’s vision to double the turnover of the food and drink sector by 2030.

“A further unintended consequence of these proposals would be the blocking of a key source of vital funds to Scotland’s sports and arts and culture sectors, at a time when they can least afford this.

“With the sector employing 88,700 people in Scotland, and contributing £6.1bn in gross value added to the economy each year, the letter describes drinks such as Scotch whisky, and beers and gins produced in Scotland as being iconic exports which in turn drive our economy here at home,” says the open letter.