Skip to main content
18th November 2022

Portman Group response to the Scottish Government’s Consultation on Restricting Alcohol Advertising and Promotion

In response to the Scottish Government’s Consultation on Restricting Alcohol Advertising and Promotion, which reviews the role of Portman Group’s regulatory remit, Matt Lambert, CEO of the Portman Group, the alcohol social responsibility body and marketing regulator, said:

“The majority of adults in Scotland are moderate or non-drinkers and it is encouraging that binge drinking, alcohol-related crime and underage drinking have all significantly declined. These recommendations are entirely disproportionate and inhibit consumers’ ability to make informed choices, and restrict the ability to trade for producers and retailers who ensure that alcohol is sold responsibly.

“The Portman Group’s Codes of Practice have played a significant role in helping to achieve reductions in underage drinking, through extensive commitments to ensure that marketing and sponsorship does not target under 18s or vulnerable consumers.

“The Scottish Government’s own Health Survey published last week shows that average weekly intake has fallen to well below the official UK Government weekly guidelines. This has all occurred at a time when the amount of advertising spend has increased, suggesting that there isn’t an immediate correlation between them.

“However, there is still work to be done in addressing the small minority that drink to harmful levels and they require targeted health led interventions.

“We are pleased to see that the Scottish Government are prepared to work with existing regulators, and we commit to engage fully and constructively with the process.”

Notes to Editors

The consultation is expansive, and includes:

  • Banning alcohol adverts in print media – newspapers and magazines
  • A ban on sports sponsorship in Scotland, which would also include bans on players and staff featuring in alcohol adverts in print and online.
  • A ban on alcohol events sponsorship.
  • A total ban on outdoor alcohol advertising including on vehicles and in public places
  • Restrictions on the retail of display of alcohol
  • Ban the sales of alcohol-branded merchandise in Scotland,
  • Extending any marketing restrictions to low and no alcohol alternatives which share branding with drinks over 1.2% ABV.
  • Restricting the content of alcohol advertising to only factual statements – citing the law in Estonia.

Reviews are also being carried out on areas outside of the regulatory competence of the Scottish Government. This includes:

  • Banning alcohol-related social media channels and websites in Scotland
  • Banning or introducing a watershed for alcohol advertising on TV and radio

Key statistics

  • When reviewing the impact of advertising it is worth considering that “the top 10 most loved drinks brands among 18-24 year olds are all soft drinks”. This consumer insight is based on the opinions of over 96,000 UK adults aged 18-74 across 350 soft and alcoholic drinks brands, collected through BrandVue Drinks – Savanta’s market intelligence platform 2022 – the largest and most comprehensive brand tracking engine in the market.
  • 77% of adults in Scotland either do not drink or drink within the weekly recommended lower risk guidelines of 14 units – up from 72% a decade ago in 2011. (Scottish Health Survey, November 2022)
  • Similarly, the average weekly unit intake across drinkers has fallen from 13.1 units in 2011 to a record low of 11.3 units a week. (Scottish Health Survey, November 2022)
  • Those drinking above the recommended guidelines has fallen from 28% in 2011 to 23% in 2021. (Scottish Health Survey, November 2022)
  • This fall has been most pronounced amongst young adults (16-24 year olds), with those drinking at higher rates falling from 32% in 2011 to 14% in 2021. (Scottish Health Survey, November 2022)
  • In Scotland, the proportion of 13-15-year olds who drank in the last week has been in overall decline over the past 15 years, falling from 31.5% in 2004 to 13.25% in 2018. (Scottish Government, November 2019)

Press release from Portman Group.

For further information, please contact Joseph Meaden via