Alcohol Advertising and Promotion: Scottish Government Consultation

Alcohol advertising and promotion:  Scottish Government Consultation 


9 March 2023 


Social Work Scotland is the professional body for social work leaders, working closely with our partners to shape policy and practice, and improve the quality and experience of social services.  As noted by the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), alcohol and other drug use can play a significant role in the lives of people who receive social work services; Social workers are in the front line of health and social care services, providing significant support to individuals and families affected by substance use and related challenges 

In 2016, Social Work Scotland responded to the consultation on Minimum Unit Pricing to indicate our endorsement of minimum unit pricing as a universal harm reduction provision.  It was, and remains our position that alcohol use contributes to social, individual and family challenges.  The aspiration of Scottish Government’s Alcohol Framework 2018:  “Changing Scotland’s relationship with alcohol to remain as pertinent now as they did in 2018.  Reviewing and restricting alcohol advertising and promotion has a key role in realising these aspirations. 

  • Reduce Consumption 
  • Support Positive attitudes and positive choice 
  • Support families and communities 

We fully endorse the position of Alcohol Focus Scotland that this consultation offers an opportunity to create change and protect people from the problems associated with alcohol marketing.  In addition, we offer our support to the recommendations made by the Alcohol Marketing Expert Network that countries across the world 

  • Introduce statutory restrictions on alcohol marketing activities, including: 
  • advertising in outdoor and public spaces 
  • sponsorship of sports and events 
  • branded merchandise 
  • advertising in print publications 
  • Ensure alcohol displays and promotions in shops are only visible to those planning to browse or purchase alcohol. 
  • Stop price being used as a promotional tool. 
  • Mandate the display of health information on all alcohol packaging. 
  • Ensure restrictions are comprehensive and explicitly include all forms of brand marketing, including identifiable fonts, colours, and taglines, not just brand names. 

Taking this harm reduction approach demonstrates a maturity and broad understanding of the impact of alcohol related harm to the population of Scotland and is in line with actions undertaken in other countries, such as Ireland and Estonia.  Changing Scotland’s relationship with alcohol requires incremental and sustained change, minimum unit pricing was a fantastic first step towards this, the review and restriction of alcohol marketing is the necessary next step.