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Published:  23 July, 2008

The drinks industry needs to pull its head out of the sand and deal with the relevant issues to avoid strict government legislation, according to speakers at last week's Industry Under Threat, Social Responsibility and Self Regulation' conference hosted by Alcohol in Moderation (AIM) and the WSA. Binge drinking among young adults was identified as the most important issue. The panel called for a campaign that mirrors the drink-driving campaign of the past two decades, to make binge drinking and public drunkenness socially unacceptable. Mark van Rijn, public affairs director of Heineken, reminded the 70 conference attendees that the European Commission has given the drinks industry until December to prove that it can tackle alcohol misuse among the young without further government intervention. The time for talking is over the industry must enforce and re-inforce self regulation across Europe,' he said. Majestic Wine's chief executive, Tim How, speaking on behalf of the WSA Retail Panel, detailed the benefits of a national identity card to assist retailers in identifying underage drinkers. The global definition and implementation of unit labelling was advocated, though How warned that mandatory labelling could restrict the variety of wines available to the UK consumer. Other discussions centred on regulation of on-trade promotions and responsibility messages on branded material.