Government welcomes new voluntary action from drinks producers



Drinks Producers And Retailers Unveil Latest Voluntary Action Plan To Tackle Harmful Drinking

8 July 2014

Drinks producers and retailers have today announced a significant range of voluntary industry actions to help the Government tackle alcohol misuse and promote responsible drinking.

In response to the partnership challenge set by Government, businesses have developed six innovative voluntary pledges ranging from:

  • supporting local areas to tackle anti-social behaviour by rolling out alcohol partnership schemes in Local Alcohol Action Areas by the end of 2015
  • introducing new good practice guidance for the responsible retailing of alcohol in the off-trade
  • some producers reviewing carbonated products in single serve cans so they do not contain more than 4 units of alcohol
  • offering lower alcohol house wines below 12.5% and lower and no-alcohol beers in pubs, bars and restaurants to help people drink within recommended guidelines
  • providing £250,000 to kick start funding for new education programmes in schools
  • committing to train 10,000 pub, bar and retail staff by 2016 to gain a  British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) Responsible Alcohol Retailing qualification, actively prioritising those areas most likely to benefit

These pledges are in addition to the eight core alcohol pledges already made as part of the Public Heath Responsibility Deal.

The six additional pledges were presented to Ministers on 7 July 2014. Different partners will sign up to each of the pledges as appropriate.

Welcoming this new package, the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt said:

"Our Responsibility Deal has made real progress, as the industry is taking one billion units out of the market and has agreed to provide labelling which includes health warnings and unit information.

"The new pledges will help people to drink responsibly and make healthier choices.”

Home Secretary Theresa May said:

“Alcohol-fuelled harm costs taxpayers £21 billion a year. It is therefore right that the alcohol industry is taking action to help reduce this burden, without penalising those that drink responsibly.

“The government welcomes the progress the alcohol industry has made so far in responding to the challenge we set them.

“We now look forward to seeing the positive impact of these pledges and continuing to work with industry to explore what else can be done to tackle alcohol abuse.”

Minister for Public Health, Jane Ellison has also confirmed that industry has met its target by achieving 79.3% on its pledge to feature important health information on 80% of labels on shelf by the end of 2013.

Henry Ashworth, Chair of the Responsibility Deal Alcohol Network said:

"UK drinks producers and retailers have a strong track record in delivering programmes of voluntary activity to support government in tackling anti-social behaviour caused by alcohol misuse. As responsible businesses, we are determined to play our part and have set out a whole new programme of voluntary actions in response to the challenge set by the Government. Working in partnership with business is a great way to get positive change happening quickly in towns and cities throughout the UK." 

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said:

“Tackling alcohol-related harm is a key priority for the drinks industry. By working in partnership with Government, producers and retailers have committed to a new and substantial package of voluntary pledges aimed at promoting responsible drinking. It is especially important that retailers have agreed, for the first time, to produce, promote and maintain good practice guidance on the responsible retailing of alcohol through the Retail of Alcohol Standards Group. This package is another positive step for partnership working and building a culture of responsible drinking in the UK. ”  

Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the BBPA:

 “The British Beer & Pub Association welcomes the Government’s support for the launch of our on-trade pledge.  Representing 95 per cent of the brewing industry and around 20,000 pubs, our members will take action to encourage lower alcohol products in pubs, at events and promote through social media.  Already, there are some great examples from our members to build on.  It shows that Government support for partnership delivers real results.“

James Lowman, ACS Chief Executive, said:

“In recent years we have seen retailers taking action both in store and within their local communities to address issues of alcohol-related harm. ACS has a proud record of promoting local initiatives such as Community Alcohol Partnerships, and we are playing a full part in supporting the Government’s Local Alcohol Action Areas. We are committed to driving up standards through promoting best practice and responsible retailing and will support the work of Retail Alcohol Standards Group in doing this.’

Catherine May, Corporate Affairs Director, SABMiller said:

“Bar, pub and off-licence staff can play a hugely important role in preventing under-age drinking and anti-social behaviour in their local areas - but facing these situations can be intimidating and they need the knowledge and confidence to be able to deal with them. Since 2009 we’ve helped train more than 4,000 of these front-line workers in responsible alcohol retailing and today we’re delighted to be able to extend this pledge further and commit to providing 10,000 people access to the same nationally-recognised qualification by 2016."

Inge Plochaet President AB InBev UK & Ireland said:

“Tackling alcohol misuse is a complex challenge which we believe is best done by working in partnership.  We are therefore announcing our commitment to extend our support for alcohol education through our partnership with the Alcohol Education Trust, and to dedicate resources to helping tackle problem drinking in Local Alcohol Action Areas.  We are also signing up to the new packaging pledge which will limit the number of units in a can to four.”

Sir Martin Narey, Chairman of the Portman Group commented:

“In my first year as Chair I've been very encouraged by the preparedness of producers to act to reduce the harm caused by alcohol misuse, demonstrating they are brave enough to do more than simply offer warm words about responsible drinking. This has required no little courage and leadership on the part of producers.”

Details of the new Public Health Responsibility Deal pledges and pledge signatories are available to view in full online at


Media bids please contact Sarah Hanratty, Head of Corporate Affairs 020 7290 1463/1460 mobile 07730 525 701

For more information on the RASG pledge please contact William Boyack  020 7089 3876 mobile 07948 329 001

Notes to editors


Responsible retailing in the off trade The Retail of Alcohol Standards Group will produce and maintain guidance on the responsible retailing of alcohol in the off trade. This will cover all aspects of alcohol retailing including the promotion of alcohol, in-store signage and alcohol information and will provide alcohol retailers with best practice guidance to establish the standards recommended for the responsible retailing of alcohol and to continue spreading best practice across the retail sector.

Promoting responsible drinking in the on-trade The British Beer and Pub Association and its members will take action in support of the current pledge to take one billion units out of the market. This will include premises offering house wine below 12.5% ABV and actively promoting lower and no-alcohol beer and other products in bars and pubs.

SAB Miller will provide funding to offer 10,000 people a British Institute of Innkeeping qualification on responsible alcohol retailing focused under-age drinking and tackling anti-social behaviour prioritising those areas most likely to benefit from this support such as Local Alcohol Action Areas (LAAAs).

Responsible packaging

Some producers have pledged to review the alcohol content and container sizes of products in their portfolio. By December 2014 we will not produce or sell any carbonated product with more than (4) units of alcohol in a single-serve can. This builds on the pledge to remove a billion units of alcohol sold annually from the market.

Supporting targeted local action The Government has identified 20 Local Alcohol Action Areas (LAAAs) which are at the forefront of a targeted approach to address alcohol related harms in some of the worst affected areas. The alcohol industry will strengthen the coverage and impact of existing local partnership initiatives including Best Bar None, BIDs (Business Improvement Districts), CAP (Community Alcohol Partnerships), Pubwatch and Purple Flag; which will include making all relevant partnership initiatives available and sustainable in these areas.

Improving education around responsible drinking

The industry will help to provide education and information to consumers to positively change their relationship and behaviour towards alcohol. This includes a continuing commitment to supporting Drinkaware. The industry will also provide £250,000 of initial funding to establish the Lifeskills and Education Alcohol Foundation to deliver life-skills and alcohol education programmes in schools, prioritising those areas disproportionately affected by alcohol harm.