SWA chief ‘frustrated’ over conference ban
Source: The Spirits Business
by Amy Hopkins
8th October, 2015
The CEO of the Scotch Whisky Association has expressed his “frustration” that members of the alcohol sector are “not welcome” at this week’s Global Alcohol Policy Conference in Edinburgh.
The conference, held from 7-9 October, will be co-hosted by the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance (GAPA) and Alcohol Focus Scotland.
It will explore research and advocacy strategies to reduce alcohol harm across the world and is supported by a number of academic and charitable organisations.
David Frost, chief executive of trade body the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), said that all members of the alcoholic drinks industry have been forbidden from attending the event.
“We believe partnership working between government and other stakeholders is fundamental to tackling alcohol harm,” he said.
“It is therefore frustrating that we, along with all members of the alcohol industry, have been told we are not welcome at this week’s Global Alcohol Policy Conference in Edinburgh.
“We are committed to tackling misuse and will shortly be announcing the organisations which will benefit from the second round of grants from our £500,000 Scotch Whisky Action Fund.”
The SWA, along with Spirits Europe and other trade bodies, is fighting plans by the Scottish Government to implement a 50p minimum unit price on all alcoholic beverages.
The Scottish Court of Session referred the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) after the SWA argued that the legislation would be illegal under EU law.
Trade members recently applauded the decision of the CJEU’s Advocate General Yves Bot’s official “opinion”, which similarly “encouraged” health lobbyists and lawmakers.
Ahead of the Global Alcohol Policy Conference, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the government remains “absolutely committed” to introducing MUP.
“We’re awaiting the details of the Scottish Government’s new proposals to tackle alcohol misuse which we hope will review the 40 or so measures already in place,” continued Frost.
“We believe there are many effective methods that can be used to combat misuse, and that appear to be working with alcohol-related deaths down 25% from a peak in 2006, rather than pursuing minimum unit pricing (MUP) which would be ineffective and is likely to be illegal.
“The Advocate General’s opinion published last month encouraged us in our long-held view that MUP is illegal when there are less trade restrictive measures available.”
For a more in-depth look at MUP, see the October 2015 issue of The Spirits Business magazine, out soon.