Government praises alcohol industry for responsibility deal

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The alcohol industry has received praise from the government after it made six pledges to aid the authorities in promoting responsible drinking and tackling alcohol abuse.

The six pledges come as an add-on to the existing eight measures which already form part of the industry’s Responsibility Deal made with the government. It includes entering 10000 workers into a Responsible Alcohol Retailing course.

An additional £250000 has been pledged to educate schoolchildren about the dangers of misusing alcohol. There will also be an introduction of ‘good practice guidance’ to allow alcohol to be sold responsibly in the off-trade.

Some of the other pledges are linked to the promotion of lower-strength products and implementing alcohol partnership schemes which will tackle antisocial behaviour in the UK by the end of 2015.

The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said that the deal has progressed well, as the industry is preparing to remove one billion units from the market and has agreed to adequate labelling which will include unit information and health warnings. He added that the new pledges will aid people in making healthier choices and drinking responsibly.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, added that alcohol-induced harm costs the country £21bn annually and it is right for the alcohol industry to help reduce this burden to the taxpayer, without penalisation of those who drink in a responsible manner.

Jane Ellison, the minister for public health, has confirmed that the industry has met the target of displaying health information on 80% of the labels on shelves by the end of 2013.

Henry Ashworth, the chief executive of the Portman Group and chair of the Responsibility Deal Alcohol Network, said that drinks producers and retailers in the UK have a strong track record of delivering programmes of voluntary activity to aid government in tacking antisocial behaviour caused by the misuse of alcohol. He added that the group is determined to play their role in responding to the challenges set by government. He stated that working in partnership with businesses is a perfect opportunity to boost positive change in cities and towns throughout the country.

The chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, Miles Beale, said that tacking alcohol-related harm is one of the drinks industry’s top priorities. He added that by working with Government, retailers and producers have given their commitment to the promotion of responsible drinking. He praised the combined effort of retailers to promote, produce and maintain good practice on selling alcohol responsibly through the Retail of Alcohol Standards Group.

The chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, James Lowman, said that retailers have in recent years taken action both in store and in their local communities to address the issues of harm stemming from the abuse of alcohol.

He added that the group will support the work being done by Retail Alcohol Standard Group in promoting best practices and responsible retailing.

Image Credit: Michael Coté

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