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The alcohol industry should be banned from sponsoring sport and music events to limit the promotion of its products to children and young adults, the BMA insists.

In response to legislation proposed by the opposition Scottish Labour Party, the BMA welcomes the suggestion that alcohol advertising should be tightened up but says it needs to go further and tackle sponsorship.

‘Sponsoring entertainment, sporting events and sports teams has become an important advertising mechanism for the alcohol industry,’ the BMA says in its consultation response.

‘Sponsorship usually involves providing money to underwrite the event in return for having a logo prominently displayed or distributed on items such as caps and T-shirts and around the event venue. Children and adults become walking billboards when they wear these items.’

The Labour Member’s Bill consultation, called Shifting the Culture (PDF), contains a number of proposals including restrictions on caffeinated alcoholic drinks, education and alcohol awareness campaigns, and banning individuals who have been convicted of an alcohol-related offence from drinking in specified places.

Legislate on labelling

It was published the day before the Scottish Parliament backed the Scottish government bill, which will introduce a minimum price per unit of alcohol.

Labour abstained on the bill, but has asked for cross-party support for its proposals. These include notifying a GP about a patient’s conviction for an alcohol-related offence, though the BMA is ‘not convinced’ that this would have a significant impact on addressing drinking behaviours among offenders.

Its response says: ‘If a patient is not willing to address their behaviour, the chances of them addressing it because the GP raises it are only slight.’

The BMA adds that it would like Labour to lobby colleagues at Westminster to legislate on labelling of alcohol containers such as bottles or cans, saying that voluntary measures had proved disappointing.

The association says: ‘The BMA believes that there should be a legal requirement for all containers of alcohol offered for sale, and advertisements, to carry a prominent common-standard label, which clearly outlines the alcohol content in terms of units, information on the maximum recommended daily level of alcohol consumption and a warning of the dangers of excessive drinking.’

The Consultation on the Alcohol (Public Health & Criminal Justice) Bill was lodged in March by Mid Scotland and Fife Scottish Labour MSP Richard Simpson — a former GP and consultant psychiatrist in addictions – and South Scotland Scottish Labour MSP Graeme Pearson, former director of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency.

The consultation has closed.

Battling the booze: what the BMA is doing

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What is the BMA doing?

We are campaigning for a minimum price for alcohol and pressing the UK governments to:

  • Increase and rationalise tax to ensure it is proportional to alcoholic content
  • Reduce licensing hours
  • Ensure licensing legislation is strictly enforced
  • Prevent irresponsible marketing practices
  • Improve labelling, to include alcohol content and recommended daily guidelines
  • Introduce a compulsory levy on the alcohol industry to fund an independent public health body to oversee alcohol-related research
  • Reduce the legal limit for the level of alcohol permitted while driving from 80mg/100ml to 50mg/100ml
  • Ensure the detection and management of alcohol misuse is an adequately funded and resourced component of primary and secondary care
  • Increase and ring-fence funding for specialist alcohol treatment services
  • Lobby for and support the WHO in developing and implementing a legally binding international treaty on alcohol control