We are able to tackle alcohol harm and misuse through a combination of effective legislation, industry self-regulation and consumer education. These approaches will only succeed in unison.
There remains a live debate about how best to strike the right balance to protect consumers while allowing people to make informed choices. It is right that the voice of responsible producers is present and active in this debate through engagement with policy makers and the public health community.
Our priorities reflect our desire to see harm reduction approached in a proportionate and balanced manner. We believe all new policies should have a clearly stated aim and should be evidence-based before being introduced. Total-population measures are rarely justified in tackling the harmful behaviour of a small minority of people. We believe this is more effectively approached through targeted interventions which get to the heart of why people misuse alcohol and support them to make better choices. Alongside this, we support preventative measures that inform consumers and empower them to make better choices about their drinking.
The Portman Group and its members are committed to communicating information to consumers in a clear and simple manner. Our industry guidance sets out best practice for producers in terms of their product labels and suggests that they always include:
- the unit alcohol content per container (and optional per typical serve);
- advice not to drink during pregnancy;
- signposting to Drinkaware for further information and advice.
We also encourage producers to include on labels the UK Chief Medical Officers’ guidance that adults should not regularly drink more than 14 units per week. All Portman Group members have committed to include this voluntary information on their products.
We also support wider voluntary efforts by producers to provide calorie information and ingredients on their labelling and through websites.
However, we should also recognise that labels are just one means through which to engage with consumers. What matters most is that consumers can access the information they need to make informed choices about their drinking, and we recognise that as an industry, it is critical we do all we reasonably can to promote moderation and minimise the risk of harm.
The Portman Group recognises the potential of low and no alcohol products to help some consumers moderate their drinking. Our members have been at the forefront of efforts to grow the low and no market in the UK and provide consumers with greater choice.
To support the growth of low and no alcohol alternatives, we have urged the Government to introduce greater consistency and clarity around product descriptors. For more information please see our response to the Department of Health & Social Care consultation on low alcohol descriptors.