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Healthy Drink Alliance: If we don't self regulate, the government will

Published:  17 May, 2016

The Healthy Drinking Alliance in this month's edition of Harpers is pushing to help raise awareness about the importance of self-regulation as an industry and believes we need to be doing more to prevent government mandates from coming into effect in the future.

Ex-PLB managing director Peter Darbyshire set up the new lobbying group HDA to help address the issue.

"There are too many dinosaurs in the trade who simply refuse to admit there is a problem; nice people but with their heads stuck in the sand, and this won't simply go away," said Darbyshire.

Neil Bruce, the new head of wine at Fuller's agrees and feels there is a risk that if as an industry we don't do a better job, the government will most likely force it on us. "The alcohol industry at its most general continues to do a pretty lame job of self-regulation, in terms of alcohol consumption. If we don't self-regulate better, then government will. And they will almost certainly get it wrong," said Fuller. 

The HDA is pushing for new logos to be put on bottles which will help make clearer the ABV in a given drink, but also make clearer how many units and calories are in an average glass.

Darbyshire argues that government's approach to both the tobacco and more recently sugar industries should be cautionary tales for the alcohol industry that need to be taken seriously.

Earlier this year the drinks trade was blindsided by the new guidelines that were released by the Chief Medical Officer, which were issued without any consultation with the trade or trade bodies.

Miles Beale, the chief executive officer of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, earlier this month at the London Wine Fair warned the CMO's new guidelines could make for an uncertain future ahead.

"Ironically the inaction by government leaves the industry in limbo and also threatens undermining the progress, cooperation and goodwill generated over recent years. Worse still it undermines the prospect of achieving continued behaviour change among problem drinkers.  And yet we are unlikely to see the Government's response to the consultation on the revised guidelines until July at the earliest.  Just how much ground will be lost is unclear, but this will be a significant challenge over the coming year," said Beale.

To get the full story on what the Healthy Drinking Alliance is looking to do and how they have developed their goals, subscribers can click here.