AN EAST Lothian distillery’s impact on the local economy was praised by a South Scotland MSP as he called on the Scottish Government to consult with businesses in the drinks industry before imposing restrictions on alcohol promotion.

The Scottish Government will hold more talks with public health stakeholders and the alcohol industry in the coming months to discuss ways of limiting young people’s exposure to alcohol promotions.

A consultation on restricting alcohol advertising and promotions ran from November 2022 to March 2023. The consultation received 2,408 personalised responses from 1,985 individuals and 423 organisations. In addition, it received 585 responses through campaigns organised by the Campaign for Real Ale and the Scottish Beer and Pub Association.

Respondents were asked for their views on the marketing of alcohol in a variety of settings, including sports and cultural events, outdoor and public spaces, retail, print and online media, television and radio, and cinemas.

A report following the consultation found that the majority of individuals and most organisations with links to the alcohol industry thought the proposals as set out would not achieve the intended outcomes of reducing alcohol consumption and alcohol harm.

Craig Hoy, South Scotland MSP

Craig Hoy, South Scotland MSP

Craig Hoy MSP, Conservative, said that more consultation was needed before any decisions were made.

He said: “I completely support the sector and urge the Scottish Government to continue consulting with industry stakeholders as it considers establishing restrictions on alcohol promotion in Scotland.”

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, he added: “I am fortunate enough to live just a few miles away from Glenkinchie Distillery, one of six single malt whiskies marketed by owners Diageo as the classic malts of Scotland, and Glenkinchie was the key beneficiary of Diageo’s £185 million investment in Scottish whisky tourism, which transformed the distillery to make it a world-class attraction. The combination of its proximity to the Capital and that recent investment in the visitor experience has helped to attract over 37,000 visitors in 2023, which is critical to the local economy in East Lothian and across the south of Scotland.

“Collectively, Scotch whisky visitor centres are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Scotland, drawing visitors who then go on to spend more money in the local economy right across Scotland.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government is determined to do all it can to reduce alcohol-related harm. Alongside our world-leading minimum unit pricing policy, we will continue to invest in a wide range of other measures and treatment. Funding for alcohol and drug partnerships rose to a record £112 million in 2023-24.

“Following the consultation that concluded last year, the Scottish Government is considering targeted restrictions on alcohol marketing that balance public health benefits without causing harm to industry and business.”