Sustained, targeted action to tackle alcohol misuse is vital if Scotland's cultural acceptance of irresponsible drinking is to be changed (Leader, February 22). However, distillers fundamentally disagree that such efforts somehow preclude supporting the competitiveness of Scotland's leading export, Scotch whisky, an industry that supports thousands of jobs across west central Scotland and beyond.

The whisky industry has taken a lead in promoting responsible attitudes to alcohol, in partnership with government through the likes of Alcohol Awareness Week, and supporting work to tackle alcohol misuse in Glasgow and elsewhere, ensuring products are promoted in a responsible way, and providing information on labels to help consumers make informed choices.

We see no reason why excise on Scotch whisky should be increased and welcome the Scottish Government's support for a spirits duty freeze in the Budget. Recent duty freezes have been important and started to change a situation where Scotch continues to face tax discrimination in its home market in relation to beer and wine, and faces the third-highest rate of spirits duty in the EU. As the international evidence from Scandinavia and southern Europe clearly shows, ever higher taxes, penalising the majority who drink responsibly, do not solve issues around alcohol misuse. Tax rates should not be confused with pricing in the off-trade - the retail price of a standard bottle of Scotch whisky is already 72% tax.

Despite increasing energy and production costs, duty stability has allowed distillers to invest in their operations and Scottish supply chain, benefiting the wider economy and the communities that depend on the industry, ensuring Scotch whisky is well-placed as new opportunities develop in markets such as China and India.

This will be of enormous benefit to the Scottish economy in the years to come. We are also working hard to attract visitors to Scotland using whisky's iconic international appeal - a fact recognised in The Herald's own recent "World Famous" supplement.

David Williamson, Scotch Whisky Association, Edinburgh.