Saturday 24 November 2012

Light begins to dawn?

Over the past few years I have often been critical of the great and good of CAMRA for naively refusing to acknowledge the glaring parallels between the campaigns against tobacco and alcohol. However, in the December issue of the CAMRA newspaper What’s Brewing (not online, but available for download to members) there is a perhaps surprising outbreak of common sense in the form of an opinion piece by Denzil Vallance of Great Heck Brewery entitled Packaging Legislation Plain Wrong.

This is a clear warning that the proposed legislation for plain packaging of tobacco contains a very clear potential risk for the brewing industry, which explicitly recognises the principle of the “slippery slope”:

It has now started with cigarettes, where the government is considering removing branding through so-called standardised packaging. But this opens a door, which could lead to alcohol and fast food.
Well said that man – if I ever see his beer on the bar of a pub I’ll definitely give it a try.

For many years CAMRA has had an official policy opposing the “mass-media” advertising of alcoholic drinks, which most members tended to hold their nose and ignore in the same way as Labour Party members and Clause Four. But what they don’t seem to realise is that, far from helping small producers at the expense of the big boys, restrictions on advertising and promotion inevitably tend to favour established, familiar brands over small players and new entrants. In a world where there is no advertising and no distinctive packaging, in effect there can be no new products, and the only marketing tool that remains is price.

Of course plain packaging for alcohol is still some way away, but it is already being touted by anti-drink activists as a logical next step from tobacco.


  1. What's caused this outbreak of sanity? Has Dickie been handing out cans of cheap lout?

  2. No worries about ALCOHOL getting the TOBACCO persecution just yet.
    The media which is still allowed
    earn millions from advertising
    booze would raise a crusade against any clampdown
    No such crusade about the smoking ban no big bucks allowed (by law)
    I noticed a few observations from the CAMRA TOP DOG about pubs
    closing and being converted to
    convenience stores.
    The main reason for the closures
    was notieable by it's absence

    Awakening awaited

  3. Which CAMRA "official policy" do you mean?

  4. The CAMRA External Policy Document.

  5. I guess you're referring to EPD 2.1 CAMRA would support moves to prohibit or restrict global alcohol producers from advertising
    their global and international brands. CAMRA however defends the right of non global brewers
    to promote and provide information about their products.

    Glancing through my copy of What's Brewing (AGM motions update) I notice that in response to remitted motion 14 there's a recommendation that this clause be deleted. So, (a) not ignored, and (b) soon to be history.

  6. Good, a victory for common sense.

    However, in earlier versions of the EPD (one of which I probably have in a pile of papers somewhere) there was a specific call for the "mass-media" advertising of alcoholic drinks to be banned. I wrote about it here, and certainly wasn't making it up.

  7. Which bit of this document covers renaming the beard club the campaign against Tesco?


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