Sheffield Council urged to scrap 'absurd' ban on advertising zero alcohol beers

Sheffield Council has been urged to scrap an "absurd" ban on advertising zero alcohol beers.

The authority has introduced a new advertising and sponsorship policy this month which stops the promotion of a wide array of products deemed to be "harmful to health and environment" on council-owned hoardings.

The policy, which started this month after being unanimously approved by cross-party councillors on the authority’s finance committee, also applies to online media and sponsorship opportunities.

Sheffield Council is banning the advertising of zero-alcohol beers as part of a new policy.Sheffield Council is banning the advertising of zero-alcohol beers as part of a new policy.
Sheffield Council is banning the advertising of zero-alcohol beers as part of a new policy.
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The list of barred advertisers includes alcoholic drinks and "low/zero alcohol drinks from brands synonymous with alcohol". However, the policy does allow for exemptions to be considered in some scenarios – giving the example that “a small local brewery may be accepted as a sponsor for a food festival but would not be accepted for a fostering recruitment event or an active travel initiative”.

But the British Beer and Pub Association's chief executive Emma McClarkin said the wider ban was "misguided" while the prohibition on zero alcohol drinks was "absurd".

She said: “Companies across the beer and pub sector, let alone the wider alcohol producing industry, are subject to strict advertising guidelines and are duty bound to communicate in a responsible manner which is both strictly regulated and policed.

"The decision by Sheffield City Council to unilaterally apply its own rules and restrictions is therefore disappointing and misinformed.

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"The council’s decision to prohibit no and low alcohol products seems even more absurd, especially when this innovative category of drinks is increasingly used by consumers as an effective means to moderate drinking and thereby adhere to the guidelines for weekly alcohol consumption set out by the Chief Medical Officer.

"What is more, Sheffield Council should be supporting all the amazing breweries and pubs which are part of Sheffield’s and Yorkshire’s culture and community. The council must urgently reconsider their decision which may also undermine work by the government to improve awareness of the availability of no and low alcohol drinks which the British Beer and Pub Association supports.”

Other things banned under the new policy include airports, junk food, vaping and gambling.

Council director of public health Greg Fell told last month’s finance committee: “A single ad campaign or a single policy isn’t going to make or break an obesity epidemic or a gambling harm epidemic, but what [the policy] does do is set a tone and we hope that others will follow.”

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