Businesses urged to make Responsibility Deal pledges

14 September, 2011

The UK government has urged the drinks industry to back its Responsibility Deal aimed at countering binge drinking and alcoholism.

Speaking at the Wine and Spirits Trade Association's (WSTA) annual conference, the secretary of state for public health Andrew Lansley MP, encouraged the drinks industry to "work together in a consensual way", to "help people to make the choices that will improve lives".

120 companies have already signed up to the Responsibility Deal, including Heineken, which has pledged to remove one million units of alcohol from its beer, and Diageo, which has initiated a midwife training programme aimed at educating mothers on the effects of alcohol.

Lansley also referenced multiple retailer Asda's contribution of £1 million to combat alcohol misuse and the removal of alcohol from its stores' foyer areas.

The secretary of state stressed that the policy was a move away from the historical strategy of regulation and intervention and was focused on voluntary participation by drinks businesses.

He said: "It's not the industry telling the consumer what to do, or the government telling the industry what to do.

"If you are outside of it [the Responsibility Deal] you should be explaining why. There is the expectation that you would want to be part of this."

Jeremy Beadles, chief executive of WSTA, and co-chair of the Responsibility Deal, said the association will work towards the goal of "delivering group pledges", "new pledges" and initiating "work-streams" that would comprise: alcohol education, new retailing practices and reduced alcohol products.

He said: "Look at the Heineken pledge, it's not selling less product, it's selling product with less alcohol."

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