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12/02/2008

Whisky group calls for greater health collaboration

12 February 2008. Though the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) claims to be winning the fight to curb irresponsible consumption in its homeland, it has called for more cooperation between industry and government to meet ‘responsible drinking' aims.

The issue of responsibility is becoming increasingly important to players within the alcoholic beverage industry, as major players actively attempt to target concerns over the affects of consumption head on to avoid stricter regulation at a later date.

SWA chief executive Gavin Hewitt made the latest claims at a forum held last week at the Scottish Parliament, to discuss growing concerns about ‘responsible drinking' at both national and EU level. He told delegates that recent figures from the UK's National Office of Statistics said that Scottish levels for irresponsible drinking were falling, but that both government and the entire industry must continue to look for solutions to the problem. "It is good news that our message is getting through but it is also clear more must be done to reach the minority who continue to drink irresponsibly," he stated.
Hewitt said though that recent collaborations between leading players involved in global alcohol production and the Scottish government was beginning to pay off. "[Our] members have also put in place a far-reaching code of practice on marketing and promotion, best practice recognized at EU level, and are rolling out new voluntary labelling to raise alcohol unit awareness," he added.
Other speakers at the forum included the European Commission's top health official, Robert Madelin, and the managing director of Diageo's British operations. The attempts by the industry to promote greater understanding of the need for responsible drinking come as the European Commission continues to apply pressure to reform the sale of alcohol.

During both the Plenary Meeting and the Open Day of the Alcohol and Health Forum, held on 16th and 17th April in Brussels, Gavin Hewitt reiterated the success of the event in the Scottish Parliament and highlighted it as an example of successful “multistakeholder partnership”.