SNP leadership contest: Kate Forbes says 'I do not support a ban on alcohol advertising'
The SNP leadership hopeful said the whisky industry is critical to the Scottish economy and businesses need to be given “a bit of breathing space”.
It launched a wide-ranging consultation on the issue last year, which included plans to ban alcohol sponsorship for both sports and live events. The consultation, which runs until March 9, could also see distillery and brewery shops barred from selling branded merchandise to visitors, as well as drinks branding being removed from pub umbrellas and glassware.
More than 100 firms, including the Budweiser Brewing Group, Lanson Champagne, Diageo, Whyte & Mackay and Tennent's Lager, previously signed an open letter to Holyrood ministers urging them not to "destroy Scotland's drinks industry".
Speaking during a visit to the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh, Ms Forbes, who is the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said: “My view is that I do not think we should be banning whisky advertising, full stop.”
Asked about alcohol more widely, she said: "Obviously, the whisky industry is part of the alcohol industry. When it comes to supporting our key industries, I don’t think that we should be banning the advertising of whisky. I think it would be extremely difficult to distinguish between alcohol.”
She added: “I would not be in support of a ban on alcohol advertising.”
Earlier, Ms Forbes, who is currently the finance secretary, said: “Obviously in the Scottish Government there has been a strong commitment to reducing alcohol misuse. There has been a strong focus on improving and increasing our public health outcomes.”
However, she said the “cumulative impact” of the requirements placed on businesses must be looked at. She said firms need to be given “a bit of breathing space” to weather the storms of recent years.
Mr Yousaf, the health secretary, previously told the Daily Record he would be “minded” to withdraw the consultation, adding: “But let me make it absolutely clear, with the absolute determination to bring that consultation forward, once again.”
He suggested the Scottish Government should have better explained its intentions.
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