LONDON: Concerned at current levels of booze-fuelled town centre rowdyism and violence across the UK, the nation's alcohol industry – in the shape of its solicitous persona, the Portman Group – is in process of forming a trade alliance to promote "healthy attitudes" to drinking.
This rush to responsibility is intended to pre-empt possible government restrictions on the advertising of alcoholic brands and the introduction of enforced tobacco-style health warnings on product labels.
The long overdue initiative is the result of a meeting last November between industry leaders and prime minister Gordon Brown, in which socially responsible campaigning was discussed as a partial solution to the booze pandemic and its social consequences.
Says a spokesman for the Portman Group: "There's a growing willingness within the industry to use its marketing to promote responsible drinking.
"A number of companies have developed their own campaigns and are using their marketing to promote responsibility messages and a number are also funding the Drinkaware Trust.
"Despite this, the alcohol industry is continuing to explore how it could further strengthen its work in this area."
One option on the table is the creation of a logo or symbol and a strapline for use by manufacturers and retailers to help drive a attitudinal change in the UK's binge drinking culture.
But as some industry critics point out, this is akin to applying a poultice to a severed limb. They argue that an end to so-called 'Happy Hours' and a cessation of booze-cultural PR campaigns in youth media are more likely to have a remedial effect.
While others point to the law in mainland European countries where sellers of alcohol are held directly and harshly accountable for sales to people who are clearly underage or already inebriated. And where licences are revoked for bars and clubs whose patrons cause public nuisance.
Data sourced from mad.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff