The government praised the drinks industry after it voluntarily made six pledges to help the authorities tackle alcohol abuse and promote responsible drinking.
The six pledges join the eight existing measures already part of the industry’s Responsibility Deal with the government and include putting 10,000 workers on a Responsible Alcohol Retailing course.
A further £250,000 has been put forward to help educate schoolchildren about the dangers of alcohol misuse, while new “good practice guidance” for the responsible retailing of alcohol in the off-trade will be introduced.
The other pledges relate to promoting lower-strength products and rolling out alcohol partnership schemes to tackle antisocial behaviour across the UK by the end of 2015.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “Our Responsibility Deal has made real progress, as the industry is taking one billion units out of the market and has agreed to provide labelling which includes health warnings and unit information.
“The new pledges will help people to drink responsibly and make healthier choices.”
Home Secretary Theresa May added: “Alcohol-fuelled harm costs taxpayers £21 billion a year. It is therefore right that the alcohol industry is taking action to help reduce this burden, without penalising those that drink responsibly.
“The government welcomes the progress the alcohol industry has made so far in responding to the challenge we set them.
“We now look forward to seeing the positive impact of these pledges and continuing to work with industry to explore what else can be done to tackle alcohol abuse.”
Minister for public health Jane Ellison has also confirmed that the industry has met its target of featuring health information on 80% of labels on shelf by the end of 2013.
Portman Group chief executive Henry Ashworth, chair of the Responsibility Deal Alcohol Network, said: “UK drinks producers and retailers have a strong track record in delivering programmes of voluntary activity to support government in tackling anti-social behaviour caused by alcohol misuse.
“As responsible businesses, we are determined to play our part and have set out a whole new programme of voluntary actions in response to the challenge set by the Government. Working in partnership with business is a great way to get positive change happening quickly in towns and cities throughout the UK.”
Miles Beale, chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, added: “Tackling alcohol-related harm is a key priority for the drinks industry. By working in partnership with Government, producers and retailers have committed to a new and substantial package of voluntary pledges aimed at promoting responsible drinking.
“It is especially important that retailers have agreed, for the first time, to produce, promote and maintain good practice guidance on the responsible retailing of alcohol through the Retail of Alcohol Standards Group. This package is another positive step for partnership working and building a culture of responsible drinking in the UK.”
James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, said: “In recent years we have seen retailers taking action both in store and within their local communities to address issues of alcohol-related harm.
“ACS has a proud record of promoting local initiatives such as Community Alcohol Partnerships, and we are playing a full part in supporting the Government’s Local Alcohol Action Areas. We are committed to driving up standards through promoting best practice and responsible retailing and will support the work of Retail Alcohol Standards Group in doing this.”
Details of the new Public Health Responsibility Deal pledges and pledge signatories are available to view in full online at https://responsibilitydeal.dh.gov.uk/pledges/