In a speech to be delivered later today (15 February), the Prime Minister will call on the industry to make sure that their efforts to tackle what he will describe as the “scandal” of public drunkenness amount to more than a “slogan”.
He is expected to ask the on and off trade as well brand owners to help develop “innovate solutions” to tackle the “rising tide of unacceptable behavior” that he says costs the NHS £2.7bn a year in dealing with alcohol related injuries.
Cameron will say: “This isn’t just about more rules and regulation. It’s about responsibility and a sense of respect for others.
“This is an area where the drinks industry, supermarkets, pubs and clubs need to work with government so that responsible drinking becomes a reality and not just a slogan.”
Richard Dodd, spokesman for the British Retail Consortium, which represents the major supermarkets, rejected accusations of what he termed “sloganeering”.
“It is nonsense to say we are sloganeering. Retailers are already engaged in funding [alcohol information service] Drinkaware and play a full and active role through ‘Know Your Limits’ activity and the Challenge 25 inititave”.
A spokesman for the British Beer and Pub Association says it agrees that work needs to continue to ensure that alcohol is consumed responsibly but that industry is “doing a lot already”.
“We are open to playing a wider role in partnership with the government to encourage responsible drinking,” he adds.
Alcohol producers’ body Portman Group chief executive Henry Ashworth says that its members are “determined to be effective partners in tackling public drunkenness”.
The Prime Minister’s comments come ahead of the publication of the government’s alcohol strategy, expected next month. The document is expected to include proposals that will see a higher minimum price for alcohol set in addition to the below cost price ban to be introduced in April.
The introduction of a minimum price per unit of alcohol will anger the drinks industry, which argues that minimum pricing would unfairly penalise the majority of responsible drinkers.