Drug link forces drink off shelves

Soho Drinks has been forced to pull its premium packaged spirit Crack Ice after a string of complaints suggesting that the name and packaging associate the product with crack cocaine.

Soho Drinks has halted production and is seeking advice from the Portman Group, the alcohol industry funded lobby organisation, on how packaging can be amended to meet the drinks industry’s code of practice. The withdrawal comes a month after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) cracked down on magazine advertising for the same product on similar grounds.

The Portman Group upheld complaints from the public about Crack Ice, which is a blend of “Irish potcheen (sic), citrus juices and herbs”, saying the name and the words “buzz” and “illicit” on the labels suggested a link with cocaine. In addition, Ice is slang for a variant of illegal drug methamphetamine. The Portman Group also ruled the product was in breach of the drinks industry’s code of practice.

In mid-August, the ASA ruled that Soho Drinks’ advertising for Crack Ice associated it with illegal drug use and suggested that people who drank it were brave and daring.

Canterbury-based Soho Drinks was unavailable for comment. However, during the ASA’s investigation, the company said the name “crack” was the Anglicisation of the Irish word, “craic”, meaning fun. The ASA ruled that, while the name alone did not imply illegal drug use, the explicit and implicit references in the advertising to illegal drugs and drug use were irresponsible.

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