Jon Collins, the chief executive of CGA Strategy and chairman of Noctis, hit out at comments by Dr Noel Olsen of the Royal College of Physicians blaming the drinks industry for the country’s alcohol problems. Speaking at the FOPR conference Collins said: “It was a dangerously biased perspective. The description of the pub trade as all powerful and with very little regulation was not one I recognised. “It is disingenuous to talk of irresponsible drinking costing the country £20bn a year and that the industry only makes a £1m contribution. Was it not relevant to mention the taxes we pay? “The fundamental problem was that he didn’t differentiate between the off-trade and the on-trade.” Dr Olsen had called for the drinks and pub industry to pay for the £20bn that he claimed irresponsible drinking cost the country annually. He said: “The polluter must pay. The industry must be paying for the harm and the nuisance.” Collins nevertheless acknowledged that whilst he didn’t agree with Dr Olsen, the industry couldn’t dismiss him and that it was important to engage with him and others in the Alcohol Health Alliance and to find some common ground. He also warned that there was likely to be a health bill and a policing and criminal act to be announced shortly that could impact the sector and despite calls for evidence-based policy making, alcohol was the natural home for any government intervention as ministers wanted to appear to be tackling the supposed problem.

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