Responding to today’s publication by the House of Lords EU Home Affairs, Health and Education EU Sub-Committee of their report on an EU Alcohol Strategy, licensed hospitality businesses reiterated its call for evidence based policy, but rejected a larger role for the EU and additional regulatory burdens.
ALMR Chief Executive, Kate Nicholls said:
“This is a helpful and timely contribution to the debate about whether Europe should have a role to play in public health policy. It rightly concludes that EU intervention in this area should be limited and should not stray beyond taxation and product labelling. That has to be the right approach – particularly when we have seen in the past EU suggestions that no alcohol may be sold within 100m of a school. Initiatives to tackle specific problems are best left to a local level.
“Where we part company with the report is on what those local interventions should be and their suggestion that more regulation is the answer. Voluntary partnerships can and do work and it is disappointing that that is not acknowledged.
“This report highlights a very serious weakness in the current debate about alcohol – namely the lack of a robust, reliable and up to date evidence base to underpin policy making at an EU, national and local level. What evidence is available is often out of date or partial with significant gaps and at worst it is pure guesswork and assumption, this undermines its credibility and results in a polarised debate. And as usual, it is individual retailers who are caught in the cross fire with ever increasing levels of regulation justified by spurious stats on consumption, health and crime data which seldom bear scrutiny.
“We need to agree collectively on how we are to measure and identify the problems we face as a society. Only then can we determine the scale of the problem, whether interventions work and what success looks like – in short, we can let the facts get in the way of the scare stories.”