NIIRTA and ACS call on NI Executive to re-think alcohol regulations

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Thursday, November 15th, 2012
ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) and NIIRTA (Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association) have submitted evidence to the Northern Ireland Executive, calling on them to rethink plans to bring in further costly and burdensome alcohol regulations. The consultation proposes the introduction of further restrictions on the sale, promotion and advertising of alcohol products in stores to try and address concerns over increasing alcohol consumption and alcohol harm. This includes plans to create a permanent solid barrier between alcohol products and the rest of the store, and to ban any under 18s, even if accompanied, from entering the alcohol area. ACS and NIIRTA have concerns about the proposals, claiming there is no evidence to suggest that measures such as preventing people from seeing alcohol products in stores would materially impact upon reducing alcohol-related harm. The proposals would however both increase costs for independent retailers and inconvenience for customers. Speaking to Newry Times, ACS Chief Executive James Lowman and NIIRTA Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “Independent retailers are committed to the responsible retailing of alcohol and are involved in a number of initiatives, such as the Derry Community Alcohol Partnership, to work with local people to address the root causes of alcohol misuse and alcohol related crime and disorder. “We believe that the proposals in this consultation regarding local shops will serve only to impose further costs and regulatory burdens on small shops during what is already a difficult economic time. “We would therefore call on the Department for Social Development to rethink plans to introduce further burdensome regulations for the off-trade, and instead work to a robust yet fair approach to the regulation of alcohol sale and supply across all licensed premises in Northern Ireland.” Mr. Roberts added, “Independent retailers, unlike the Supermarkets, avoid reckless drink promotions and sell alcohol at reasonable prices. Along with our colleagues in Pubs of Ulster we want to see a more responsible attitude by the community to alcohol consumption in Northern Ireland.”
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