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Act Now: Proposed Alcohol Advertising Restrictions And Their Potentially Devastating Impact On Scotland’s Pubs And Bars

Act Now: Proposed Alcohol Advertising Restrictions and their Potentially Devastating Impact on Scotland’s Pubs and Bars

It can’t have escaped anyone’s attention that the Scottish Government has published a public consultation on potential alcohol advertising and promotions restrictions in Scotland. The Government’s aim is, in simple terms, to reduce the visibility of alcohol, particularly for children and young people.

If introduced, these proposals will have a devasting impact not only on alcohol producers, but the immeasurable damage will cross over into many other sectors of our industry and beyond, such as the supply chain, hospitality and retailers’ businesses, tourism, sport, culture and community club events, festivals, the advertising industry, the list goes on and on.

That is why it is imperative that everyone involved in these sectors, including operators in the On-trade, respond to the consultation. The SLTA is calling on all operators to unite with the whole of the alcohol industry, and other affected sectors, to fight against these far reaching, ill-conceived and devastating range of proposals which will adversely affect all of us as well as the Scottish economy in general.   

What could potentially be in store directly for Scotland’s Pubs and Bars?

The far reaching immensely negative impact of a total restriction on alcohol advertising will undoubtedly filter down to and be detrimental for Scotland’s pubs, bars, hotels, restaurants and nightclubs.

For the moment, some see the sector as having perhaps “dodged a bullet” on an advertising ban with Maree Todd, the Minister responsible for these proposals, suggesting, at a meeting attended by the SLTA, that advertising restrictions, if introduced, would only be in public places and any restrictions would be unlikely “if it is in a place that you choose to go in to”, such as a pub or a bar.      

Scotland’s On-trade has reinvented itself over the last few decades and millions upon millions of pounds have been invested to improve the image and the offering of our licensed premises. 

Our premises are now more open and welcoming with outdoor areas, large windows and open frontages where potential customers can see exactly what we have to offer before they enter. Most have adopted a more relaxed continental style offering and cater for families with children. We provide food and have more professionally trained staff to deliver a high-quality service within a very controlled environment. 

However, if alcohol advertising is banned in public places the SLTA is deeply concerned that one of the unintended consequences of this could potentially see our pubs and bars etc. dragged back decades.  We could potentially have to blacken out our windows, hiding all the positive improvements that have been made to our premises and the range of service we now offer, just in case someone sees any sort of alcohol promotion or advert “from” a public space.  Something the SLTA raised with the Minister at the time but was unanswered.  Who knows where this will all end.

It is essential that your voice be heard and be heard now.   We encourage you in the strongest terms to respond to the consultation now. Your response to the Alcohol Advertising Consultation can make all the difference. The SLTA and other industry bodies will be responding to the consultation, but the outcomes will greatly depend on the numbers responding so please take the time to do so.

To send a concise response focusing on the potential direct impact of these proposals for Scotland’s pubs, bars, hotels and late night premises, a simple template has been produced to help on responding to the Scottish Government’s Consultation and can be found here.  It will only take a few minutes to complete and all you then need to do is simply e-mail your response to

If you wish to respond to the full consultation, The Scottish Alcohol Industry Partnership has produced a simple guide to help on responding to the Scottish Government’s Consultation and you can find it here . 

You can also respond to the consultation here.

The consultation deadline is Thursday 9th March.

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