The Department of Health has published its Responsibility Deal, and has immediately run into trouble with 6 health bodies who have refused to sign up as they say that the drinks industry has been allowed to dictate health policy.
This is a shame as with any partnership such as this it is necessary to involve everyone and there are bound to be compromises. It would be naive to expect anyone to sign up unless there was some common ground.
So what is it all about? Well firstly any partner signing up to the deal will pledge certain actions in relation to food, alcohol, physical activity and health at work.
There are collective pledges and individual pledges. Collective pledges are sector related. Individual pledges are those pledges approved by the DoH which may be relevant to an organisation or sub group within a sector.
For example, collective pledges on food are:
- Calorie information for food and non alcoholic drinks from 1 September 2011
- Further 15% reduction on 2010 salt targets by end of 2011
- removal of artificial trans fats by end of 2011
Collective pledges on alcohol are:
- Over 80% of products on shelves by end 2013 will have labels with clear unit content, NHS guidelines and warning about drinking when pregnant
- Raise awareness in the on trade such as pubs and clubs etc of unit content of alcoholic drinks
- Raise awareness in the off trade such as supemarkets and off-licences as well as in store magazines of the units, calorie content, NHS drinking guidelines, and the health harms associated with excess
- Effective action to reduce and prevent under- age sales through Challenge 21 and Challenge 25
- Maintain levels of financial support for Drinkaware
- Development of new sponsorship code requiring promotion of responsible drinking and not putting alcohol adverts on outdoor posters within 100m of schools
- Support and improve communication between bodies such as Best Bar None, Pubwatch, Purple Flag, Community Alcohol Partnerships, and Business Improvement Districts
As far as individual pledges are concerned, Heineken has grabbed the headlines by pledging to remove 100 million units of alcohol from the UK market by 2013 by introducing a lower strength variant of a top brand such as Foster's and Strongbow.
The drive is to get individual pubs to pledge to reduce under-age sales, provide alcohol unit informationat the point of sale, and support community intitiatives such as Best Bar None and Pubwatch.
It is a worthwhile excercise which deserves to be supported by all, and that includes both the alcohol drinks industry as well as health bodies. The 2 sides should work together to solve issues, and this initiative is the way forward. It will hopefully avoid any further legislation with all the extra red tape that would involve.
Licensing Law Specialist
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