A Labour Government elected in 2015 would implement key public health favoured measures to address alcohol misuse, including minimum unit pricing and ending sports sponsorship by alcohol companies, according to leaked documents obtained by The Mail on Sunday. See also Guardian and Telegraph reports.
Minimum pricing is favoured by most public health groups and bodies such as Alcohol Concern, given the link between price and consumption. However the policy is seen as risky political territory given around half of the public are thought to oppose it, in part due to a misunderstanding of the policy, according to research.
The Coalition Government of course controversially u-turned on minimum pricing amid claims of significant industry influence. The replacement policy of a below cost ban has been derided as comparably ineffective, and the Government have also been under fire for scrapping the alcohol duty escalator.
Ending sports sponsorship by alcohol companies is favoured by many health groups largely due to the reach and influence sports advertising has on children and young people. However an 'independent' alcohol strategy - 'Health first'- released by a coalition of over 70 health organisations in 2013, called for a ban on all alcohol advertising. Alcohol Concern have recently called for a major shake up of alcohol advertising, based on France’s Loi Evin which has much tighter controls including prohibiting sponsorship of sporting and cultural events.
Alcohol sports sponsorship spend is currently thought to be £300m a year, including 11 Premiership football teams and the big branding of major sporting events such as the FA Cup (Budweiser), Rugby World Cup (Heineken) and the Grand National (Crabbies).
Public health bodies may therefore be rooting for a Labour victory in 2015 - the document also proposed harder measures to reduce the harms caused by smoking and excessive sugar consumption. However the likelihood or not of a Labour victory aside, it is worth noting Manifesto pledges on alcohol aren't exactly binding, and the ongoing legal battle for Scotland's minimum pricing ambition could last years.