The Portman Group has amended a rule in its Naming and Packaging Code of Practice to bolster protection for under-18s following a public consultation.

The Portman Group ran a narrow three month long public consultation between May and July of this year to clarify the application of Code Rule 3.2(h) relating to particular appeal to under-18s. The consultation received written submissions from a range of stakeholders, including trade associations, the charity sector and alcohol producers all of which were supportive of the proposed changes to the Code.

After consultation, the revised Code of Practice, the Sixth Edition (Amended) has now been published. The amended rule now explicitly prohibits brand names, logos and trademarks on merchandise which has particular appeal to under-18s or is intended for use primarily by under-18s.

The new rule reads in full: “A drink, its packaging, and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way have a particular appeal to under 18s. A producer must not allow the placement of brand names, logos or trademarks on merchandise which has a particular appeal to under-18s or is intended for use primarily by under-18s.

The amendment to the Code ensures consistency between the Portman Group’s Naming, Packaging, and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks Code and its Alcohol Sponsorship Code, with the intention of preventing any link between alcohol and childhood.

Following publication there will now be a three-month grace period during which time producers and marketers are expected to familiarise themselves with the change to the Code and arrange training for staff, including from the Portman Group, on the newly amended Code Rule 3.2(h). The existing Code will continue to apply during this time.

During the consultation, the Portman Group also reviewed whether any process efficiencies could be made to the complaints system. Amendments have been made to the Informal Resolution Process and the formal investigation process intended to streamline the process without affecting the rights of those complaining or of producers.  The changes can be found in full here.

Commenting on the revised Code, Matt Lambert, CEO of the Portman Group, said: “The Portman Group’s primary purpose as a self-regulator is to protect consumers from harm, particularly those who may be vulnerable, so a fundamental priority is protecting those who are under 18.

“We know that the industry already has a strong record of compliance in this area, with 76% of complaints not upheld in 2022 but it remains a core area of concern that we deal with in our complaints system and free, confidential Advisory Service. It’s therefore vital that the Code constantly evolves in in a way that reflects the creative and dynamic industry it regulates, in order to maintain its effectiveness.

“This change further prevents any link between alcohol and childhood.”