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Spirits producers to put age restrictions on labels

Twelve leading alcohol companies, including Diageo, Pernod Ricard and Beam Suntory, have pledged to include age restriction symbols across their products as part of a joint effort to reduce underage drinking.

Symbols or written age restrictions will be added to alcohol labels by 12 drinks companies

The beer, wine and spirits companies form the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD), which was established in 2014, and also includes spirit makers Bacardi, Brown-Forman and William Grant & Sons.

Members of the IARD, which also includes beer producers AB InBev, Molson Coors and Heineken, will add symbols or written age restrictions to their labels to send an “even clearer message that these products are not for minors”.

The measure, which will also be introduced across alcohol-free products, will be rolled out globally with compliance across all markets by 2024. The IARD has also pledged not to market alcohol-free products to minors.

The move is one of five actions announced by IARD as part of a new drive to “accelerate efforts” to eliminate underage drinking globally. The IARD has also committed to taking further action to prevent minors from seeing or interacting with their brands online.

Ulrich Adam, director general of trade body Spirits Europe, has welcomed the IARD’s pledge.

He said: “Recent trends have shown that Europeans are enjoying a more responsible relationship with alcohol and it is particularly encouraging to note that underage drinking has declined dramatically across Europe in recent years.

“That said, we want to see this trend continue, and we are delighted to see our sector commit to do more to accelerate the decline in underage drinking and encourage everyone to play their part.”

The new initiative follows the group’s promise to deliver better safeguarding measures for online alcohol advertising after partnering with four social media platforms in 2018.

The IARD has pledged to implement safeguards for at least 95% of its online alcohol marketing by 2024, with the goal of reaching complete compliance at the earliest opportunity.

In addition, the group is inviting retailers, wholesalers, and distributors to help determine how best practice initiatives for age verification can be implemented across the world.

The IARD is also inviting online retailers, postal services and delivery companies to help improve global standards for the online sale and delivery of alcohol.

These actions are in response to the “challenges made to our sector in the 2018 United Nations Political Declaration on noncommunicable diseases”, the IARD explained.

“We want to raise standards across our sector and will continue to use our regular and productive dialogue with the World Health Organization to better understand what more we can do – including building on government regulation to establish co-regulatory frameworks – to further reduce the harmful use of alcohol,” the IARD said.

‘Whole-of-society approach’

Albert Baladi, president and CEO of Beam Suntory and IARD CEO chair, said: “These five actions mark another step towards our goal of eliminating underage drinking. Minors should not drink alcohol, and we proactively support strict enforcement of legal purchase and drinking age regulation.

“Although underage drinking has fallen in many parts of the world, this trend is not universal. We want to accelerate progress and work with others to eliminate underage drinking in every community through a whole-of-society approach.

We call on other producers to join us. We call on retailers to work with us to do more to prevent minors from buying alcohol in stores and online. And we call on parents and other adults to support us by not buying alcohol for, or sharing alcohol with, children and minors, even if they do this with good intentions.

“Together, we must ensure everyone reinforces the message that underage drinking is socially unacceptable.

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