Professionals and the public alike are being urged to submit responses to the Safe. Sensible. Social industry consultation proposals as the deadline of 14th October fast approaches. The two key documents, Safe. Sensible. Social - consultation for further action and the supporting impact assessment, are available on the Department of Health site here. However Alcohol Concern have released a short online tool to allow people to respond quickly by answering up to 6 questions relating to the proposals.
The full Safe. Sensible. Social - consultation for further action document asks for views on:
- how a new alcohol retailing code could be used to end poor retailing practice that leads to alcohol-related health and social harm
- whether this code should be backed up by new legislation to make it mandatory
- what action the Government should take if the voluntary agreement on alcohol labelling is not implemented
- what more can be done by the NHS and others to make sure advice and help on alcohol are available for those who need them.
The supporting impact assessment also gives a detailed assessment of the likely consequences of the main proposals for action which are:
- Do nothing
- Government works with the licensed trade [and alcohol producers] to draw up and publish a revised code and makes no statutory changes but encourages enforcement agencies to take adoption of the code into account when assessing premises during inspection and review.
- As option 2, but also, through statute, allow local authorities to agree mandatory restrictions or requirements on certain types of promotions and other activity to apply to a number (or even all) licensed premises in local areas that are experiencing problems.
- Legislate to create a set of mandatory licensing conditions for all new or existing licenses or create a mandatory code for the alcohol industry, compliance with which is a mandatory condition of all licenses.
Some professionals reportedly fear that the industry will submit extensive responses arguing that current self regulation is working, despite findings from a number of independent reviews. Department of Health would therefore like members of the public and alcohol harm reduction professionals to submit their views on what action should be taken.
Alcohol Concern's Chief Executive, Don Shenker, wrote a piece on the need to respond to the proposals published in the 8th September edition of Drink and Drugs news (on page 8). The Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has also recently called for minimum pricing in response to supermarkets selling alcohol as a loss leader. You can also see Alcohol Concern's full draft consultation submission here.