Greater protection for under-18s as the Portman Group's latest alcohol code comes into force

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Portman group, Alcoholic beverage

The Portman Group has published its latest code of practice in the same week new statistics show a fall in alcohol-related hospital admissions
The Portman Group has published its latest code of practice in the same week new statistics show a fall in alcohol-related hospital admissions
The Portman Group's latest code of practice for responsible alcohol marketing has come into force in the same week new statistics have shown a fall in alcohol-related hospital admissions of under-24s.

The Portman Group, which has been involved in a protracted argument with Jody Scheckter over the bottle design for Laverstoke Park Farm beers,​ announced that its fifth code of practice would come into force today.

The revised code features a number of key changes: producers will be able to promote low and lower-alcohol drinks, public relations and blogs will now be covered by the code and images of people who are, or look like they are, under 25 can no longer feature in any significant way on a drink's marketing materials.

According to Henry Ashworth, chief executive of the Portman Group, the revised code is designed to further protect under-18s. 

"The industry works hard to operate an effective and practical approach to self-regulation which is supported by producers and retailers and I am encouraged that Government has recognised this in its alcohol strategy," he said. 

"Our aim is to support the industry through our advisory service and get the right balance between enabling innovative campaigns and NPD whilst protecting the public from unacceptable marketing, especially children and young people," Ashworth added.

Mr Laverstoke

The dispute with Scheckter focused on the labels on Laverstoke Park Farm's bottles of ale and lager which feature a hand-drawn image of a farmer character - Mr Laverstoke.

Speaking to BigHospitality last month, Scheckter revealed the beers were likely to go out of business​ because of an order to retailers from The Portman Group not to stock the products and because of the cost of having to re-label the bottles.

Hospital admissions

The latest code comes into force in the same week new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show there was a 16 per cent drop in alcohol-related hospital admissions of under-16s in 2011. There was also a 2.4 per cent drop in admissions of 16-24-year-olds.

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) welcomed the stats as 'encouraging', however the ONS also reported a rise in alcohol-related deaths.

The statistics made for less happy reading for on-trade businesses who would not have been surprised to learn that alcohol sales in their venues fell by 46 per cent over the 10 years to 2011. 

Clamp down 

The Portman Group’s Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks was originally launched in 1996 and this most-recent revision was launched to the industry in November 2012 - six months before coming into force.

The fifth code also clamps down on any associations with sexual activity or therapeutic properties. The Portman Group also announced it was looking to introduce a new sponsorship code so responsible drinking is promoted as part of any sponsorship deals.

Related topics: Business, Pubs & Bars, Trends & Reports

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