I HAD to crack open a bottle of J.D. to drown my sorrows this week.

The Scottish Government intends pressing ahead with a consultation on introducing restrictions on alcohol sponsorship and marketing – despite its own, recently-published Health Survey finding that consumption amongst adults, in particular young adults, had fallen to record low levels.

Talk about kicking businesses when they’re desperate and down. Many of them are still reeling from the pandemic and haemorrhaging cash as they try to cope with spiralling energy prices, rising inflation, and soaring supply costs.

The stringent curbs which the Scottish Government will bring in, come what may, are intended to reduce children’s exposure to alcohol and to protect problem drinkers. They will include bans on alcohol sponsorship and marketing at sports events and music festivals, as well as outdoor and TV advertising, printed media and branded merchandising.

Even how alcohol is sold in shops and supermarkets will be looked at, with hidden booze or shuttered aisles being suggested.

Ignoring her government’s own evidence, which suggests otherwise, Scotland’s Public Health minister, Maree Todd MSP, said: “There is clear evidence that adverts which glamorise drinking can encourage young people to drink alcohol”.

Alcohol Focus Scotland’s chief executive, Alison Douglas, said: “Children and young people, are particularly affected. They tell us that they see alcohol marketing everywhere and it prevents them being able to fully live and thrive in their communities”.

An unimpressed Matt Lambert, chief executive of the alcohol beverage and brewers’ trade group, The Portman Group, responded: “The majority of adults in Scotland are moderate or non-drinkers and it’s encouraging that binge-drinking, alcohol-related crime and under-age drinking have all significantly declined. These recommendations are entirely disproportionate and inhibit consumers’ ability to make informed choices”.

Scottish football’s leading bodies, the SFA and the SPFL, warn of significant unintended consequences of a potential ban on alcohol brand sponsorships for all sports, which of course includes rugby and the Six Nations. The SPFL’s Neil Doncaster says: “To remove that revenue stream when we’re experiencing the most significant economic challenges for a generation could have huge implications for clubs and Scottish sport.”

Without alcohol sponsorship, the Edinburgh Fringe and Glasgow’s International Comedy Festival will also be under threat, as will many Scottish cultural events. The thriving live-music scene, will also be severely impacted.

Geoff Ellis, Head of DF Concerts and TRNSMT festival, says: “Coming out of the pandemic and with rising costs, Brexit and everything else, the last thing that the music, events and sporting industries need is a move to stop alcohol advertising in relation to events and sports.

“We take for granted our burgeoning festival scene but it wouldn’t exist were it not for Tennent’s hooking up with DF Concerts in 1994 to sponsor T in the Park.

“Many other alcohol brands have since become involved in music as well as with sport. If this flawed proposal is taken up by the Scottish Government, then communities will lose their social hubs – music venues, nightclubs, football clubs, rugby clubs”.

Scotland has always had an uncomfortable relationship with the “demon drink”, particularly within our most deprived and poorest communities. But massive strides have been made by the trade and other authorities to reduce crime and harm associated with alcohol.

Introducing yet more stringent bans and restrictions is not a solution, just yet more government control for control’s sake. It treats those successes with contempt as well as penalising the vast majority of the public, who consume drink in moderation, and also vast swathes of our struggling business community.

It also smacks of sheer hypocrisy, when you consider that Scotland’s national drink and greatest global export is … whisky.

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