By Andrew Starke

The UK’s Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has expressed disappointment at the findings of a Health Select Committee report on alcohol published this week, which has recommended minimum pricing and higher excise duties.

The report said the UK government’s responses to a rise in binge drinking and alcoholism had ranged from ‘the non-existent to the ineffectual’.

It further contends that supermarkets and the drinks industry have more influence on government alcohol policies than health experts.

However Government & Consumer Affairs Director at The Scotch Whisky Association, Campbell Evans, said the report unfairly singled out Scotch whisky.

“It is disappointing but unsurprising that the Committee has simply re-hashed restrictive blanket policies that fail to target problem drinkers, whilst penalising moderate consumers,” he said.

“Ever higher excise duties on Scotch and minimum pricing would do little to target the minority of people who drink to excess. Yet they would seriously damage a major contributor to the economy and one of the country’s few manufacturing successes, representing 25 percent of UK food and drink exports.

“The Committee is unfairly singling out spirit drinks, such as Scotch Whisky. Spirit drinks represent less than 20 percent of the UK drinks market and alcohol sold as spirits is already taxed more heavily than other drinks. In calling for minimum pricing, the Committee is seeking to introduce a measure that we believe to be both illegal and ineffective,” he said.

Evans said the Health Committee was right to call for more efforts to tackle alcohol related harm.

“However, it would have been far better for the Committee to examine what effective measures to tackle alcohol harm could be brought forward in partnership between government, retailers, and producers,” he said.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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