Minister says ban on alcohol advertising is not entirely ruled out

Elena Whitham was speaking as figures showed 1,276 people died from alcohol in 2022 – the highest figure since 2008.

Craig Paton
Tuesday 29 August 2023 13:21 BST
Plans for an alcohol ban were shelved earlier this year (Jane Barlow/PA)
Plans for an alcohol ban were shelved earlier this year (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Archive)

Scotland’s alcohol and drugs policy minister Elena Whitham has said a controversial advertising ban shelved earlier this year is not off the table.

First Minister Humza Yousaf said in his first major speech in the job earlier this year that the Government would go “back to the drawing board” on the issue, which could have seen alcohol obscured in shops.

Retailers and producers were angered by the proposals before they were shelved.

Speaking as figures showed 1,276 people – the highest figures since 2008 – died in 2022 from alcohol related deaths, Ms Whitham said there were still 3,000 responses to the cancelled consultation to be analysed.

“Whilst we are back to the drawing board – that doesn’t mean that it’s cancelled and it’s not going anywhere,” she said on Tuesday.

“It just means that we’re going to have a slightly different focus on it, but my focus on it is absolutely from a public health perspective.”

Asked if Scotland could still be subject to a ban on alcohol advertising, Ms Whitham said: “We don’t know what that’s going to look like.

“I think we have to look and see what the evaluation of the responses tells us and then make a move from there.

“But, clearly, as a public health minister, my focus is on that from a public health lens.”

Mr Yousaf, the minister said, reiterated his commitment to tackling alcohol harms in a meeting with stakeholders.

“(He) was quite frank in his statements with regards to marketing that we need to make sure that we reduce the harm to young people and that sometimes marketing can drive that.”

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