The Scottish Government have been urged to “fundamentally rethink” a proposal to ban alcohol advertising by leading industry bodies.
Media and advertising organisations have united in opposition to the plans which would see regulations on the promotion of alcohol.
An open letter has been signed by nine organisations including the Advertising Association, the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), following the closure of the Scottish Government’s consultation on Thursday.
The regulation changes would include a ban on sponsorships for sport and live events, and distillery and brewery shops also barred from selling branded merchandise to visitors.
The industry leaders say the reforms would not address excessive alcohol consumption.
The letter said: “Whilst we understand the Government’s desire to reduce alcohol consumption harms in Scotland, there is no evidence that advertising bans will achieve that aim.
“The proposals set out by the Scottish Government will fail to address the problem.”
It added: “We call for a fundamental rethink of the proposals with a focus on targeted and practical policies that facilitate behaviour change without damaging the Scottish economy and the advertising and creative industries that are important to the entrepreneurial Scotland that the Scottish Government want to see.”
The GMB union, which represents thousands of workers in the brewing, whisky and spirits industry, also added that the economy would suffer.
GMB Scotland organiser David Hume claimed the plans were a result of policies made “within the Holyrood bubble”.
He said: “While the consultation is well intentioned, an alcohol advertising ban will inevitably be detrimental to jobs across the sector and its supply chains.
“And in a cost-of-living crisis, workers in the real world shouldn’t pay the price for the unintended consequences of decisions taken within the Holyrood bubble.
“Let’s be clear, the sector is a fundamental pillar of our economy and the jewel in the crown of our highly valuable food and drink sector – we cannot do without.
“That’s why GMB is urging ministers to scrap their proposals and work with employers and unions to bring forward a national strategy to support the sector rather than restrict it.”
The Scottish Government has previously said the aim is to take responsible steps on public health.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are consulting on views on the most appropriate next steps in reducing alcohol-related harm, which is one of the most pressing public health challenges that we face in Scotland.”
The consultation closed on March 9 and as yet “no decisions have been taken”.
The spokesperson continued: “We have been meeting a number of stakeholders – including Scottish Rugby and the drinks manufacturing, advertising and media sectors – during the consultation period to hear directly from them and will further engage with stakeholders around any next steps.”