Licensing chiefs knock back booze-free beers promotion

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Plans to promote alcohol-free beers, ciders and wines have been rejected by licensing chiefs.

The Edinburgh Licensing Forum had proposed encouraging supermarkets to introduce separate displays away from the alcohol aisles of booze-free alternatives so that they could be bought by people under the age of 18 without breaking licensing laws.

But the plan provoked concern from anti-alcohol campaigners, who feared that the measure would encourage major drinks companies to introduce non-alcohol alternatives to their brands, and was rejected by the city’s licensing board.

John Loudon, convener of the Edinburgh Licensing Forum, said: “The board decided they did not like the idea. What we were trying to do was stimulate debate on the objective of improving public health, and that is an extremely difficult objective.

“People have some general ideas but coming up with something specific is difficult. We will take a look at other ideas instead.”

The changes would have stated that there should be “individual displays of non or low-alcohol beer, lager, wine and cider that larger supermarkets offer with no time or age restrictions on their purchase”.

As well as allowing people under 18 to buy the brands – which have an alcohol volume below 0.5 per cent – the changes would have also meant that the brands would be able to be purchased at any time of day, rather than being restricted to the hours of 10am to 10pm.