MUP debate ‘driven wedge’ between groups
Source: The Spirits Business
by Amy Hopkins
21st October, 2015
The debate around minimum pricing on alcohol has had the “regrettable” effect of “driving a wedge” between drinks groups, lawmakers and health lobbyists, according to the head of Spirits Europe.
Speaking to The Spirits Business, Paul Skehan, secretary general of trade body Spirits Europe, said that a number of anti-alcohol advocates wish to portray drinks producers as the “bad guys” during an on-going court battle between industry representatives and the Scottish government over plans to implement a minimum cost of 50p per unit on alcohol sold in Scotland.
Earlier this month Europe’s secretary general Yves Bot issued his official opinion on the plans after the SWA, Spirits Europe and Comité Européen des Enterprises Vins (CCEV) challenged the legislation, calling it illegal under EU trade laws.
The Scottish Government, which has been unable to implement MUP while the court cases has been on-going, is supported by numerous health bodies in its belief that the measure will tackle harmful drinking.
“MUP is based on the fallacious assumption that if people need to spend more, then the problem of harmful drinking will go away,” said Skehan.
“There’s no way that this temperance-based, semi-prohibition initiative can work. We want it to become socially unacceptable to binge drink. We do see there are problems, but we disagree with the government on how to tackle them.”
However, Skehan claims that organisations across different sectors must work together to tackle alcohol-related harm.
“This is a very deep-rooted and complex problem and we need to work together with health groups and retailers to the way that society views alcohol,” he said.
“But MUP has driven a wedge between these organisations, which is regrettable. There are so many things we can do but we are being side-tracked by a sterile discussion over the legality of MUP.”
For a more in-depth look at the recent developments in the European lawsuit over MUP, see the October 2015 issue of The Spirits Business magazine.