Alcohol advertising and promotion

Closed 9 Mar 2023

Opened 17 Nov 2022

Feedback updated 3 Jan 2024

We asked

Alcohol-related harm is one of the most pressing public health challenges in Scotland. The Scottish Government has taken a number of actions to prevent and reduce this, including the world-leading minimum unit pricing policy, the reduction of the drink-drive limit and the multi-buy discount ban. Restricting alcohol marketing is identified as one of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) three ‘best buys’, the most cost-effective measures that the WHO recommends to prevent and reduce alcohol-related harm.

We committed to issuing a consultation on alcohol advertising and promotion, as set out in the Alcohol Framework 2018 and the Programme for Government (PfG)  2022/23. The consultation sought views on potential restrictions to alcohol advertising and promotion in Scotland, in various contexts, and ran from 17 November 2022 until 9 March 2023.

Additionally, during the consultation period, six Ministerial roundtables were held with a range of stakeholders including alcohol producers, retailers, sporting bodies, cultural organisations, people in recovery and public health organisations to hear directly from them about their views on the proposals within the consultation.

You said

The consultation received 2,408 personalised responses from 1,985 individuals and 423 organisations. In addition, it received 585 responses through campaigns organised by the Campaign for Real Ale and the Scottish Beer and Pub Association.

We commissioned an independent analysis of the consultation responses. An analysis report has now been published. We have also published the consultation responses in accordance with respondents’ preferences.

We committed to publishing high-level summaries of the stakeholder roundtable discussions. 

We did

We would like to thank all the individuals and organisations who took the time to contribute their thoughts and opinions to both the roundtables and the consultation. Your input has played a significant role in shaping our understanding of the challenges and opportunities we face in our commitment to reduce the alcohol related harm that Scotland faces, while making it clear that careful consideration is needed not to cause significant harm to the alcohol drinks industry.

It is clear from the consultation that alcohol harm needs to be addressed with almost all of the responses acknowledging that harmful drinking is a serious problem in Scotland. It is also clear from the responses that children and young people should not be exposed to alcohol advertising and promotions.

We will continue to engage with all stakeholders as we develop specific policy proposals to address alcohol harms. We are confident that this will ensure that we develop comprehensive and effective policies without causing significant harm to the alcohol drinks industry. This will take the form of targeted engagement early in 2024, with the aim of consulting on a more specific set of proposals later that year.

Results updated 30 Nov 2023

Read the consultation analysis report here and summaries of the Ministerial roundtables here.

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


Restricting alcohol marketing is identified as one of the World Health Organization’s three ‘best buys’, the most cost-effective measures that WHO recommends to prevent and reduce alcohol-related harm. Many our European neighbours have already taken action to restrict alcohol marketing including Ireland, France and Norway. This consultation sets out a potential approach for Scotland. 

Alcohol is marketed through an integrated mix of channels including advertising on TV, on billboards outdoors, through sports and events sponsorship as well as through branded merchandise and online. 

Alcohol marketing is seen by, and appealing to, large volumes of children and young people in Scotland. International evidence shows that seeing alcohol marketing is associated with an increased likelihood that children and young people will start to drink alcohol or, if they already drink alcohol, drink more. This is harmful to them in both the short and long term. 

It is also likely that alcohol marketing influences higher-risk drinkers and acts as an incentive to drink alcohol, which can make abstention more challenging. This is in addition to the likely impact marketing has on our wider society, by normalising alcohol and presenting it as fun, sociable and commonplace. 

Young people in Scotland, as well as people in recovery and their families, have told us directly that they see a lot of alcohol marketing and want us to take action to tackle this. This consultation sets out a range of potential proposals to do this including prohibiting alcohol advertising in outdoor public spaces, phasing out alcohol sponsorship and reducing the promotion of alcohol in-store. 

By restricting alcohol marketing in Scotland we hope to reduce the appeal of alcohol to our young people. This will support a reduction in consumption of alcohol and subsequently improve their health and health prospects as adults. It will also reduce the potential triggering effect that alcohol marketing can have on higher-risk drinkers, those in recovery or treatment and support our ambition to change our troubled relationship with alcohol. Your responses will help shape our next steps. 

Read the consultation paper

Read an Easy Read version of the consultation paper

Why your views matter

Views set out in this consultation will assist with the development and impact assessment of this policy. The consultation responses will help us to further consider whether restrictions on alcohol advertising and promotion should be introduced, what any restrictions might cover and what might be excepted from them.

Access and respond to this consultation online by pressing the Begin Consultation button below . You can save and return to your responses while the consultation is still open. 

If you are unable to respond using our consultation hub, please complete the Respondent Information Form and Consultation Questionnaire below and return by email or post to:

Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Consultation Alcohol Harm Prevention Team Scottish Government 3E, St Andrews House Regent Road Edinburgh EH1 3DG


What happens next

We will be assessing the feedback received from respondents which will inform and assist with the development and impact assessment of this policy. An analysis document will be published following analysis of responses. 

We anticipate that, if restrictions are to be introduced, further detailed consultation will be required to inform these, including the scope of restrictions and any exceptions.


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