George Sandeman, chairman of the Sandeman port group, travels across the continent promoting responsible drinking and said the UK towers above other countries when it comes to tackling binge drinking.
He told OLN: “In the UK in general the industry has been very responsible. In other countries it’s far harder.
“In terms of the reaction of the trade the UK is one of the leading countries in the world in that the trade is doing something and participating with the government in working to resolve a problem.
“The UK is ahead of other countries even though the tax aspects are criticised. I don’t think heavy tax is helping. It reduces overall consumption but not problem consumption.”
Sandeman said it is important to distinguish between drinkers who enjoy alcohol in moderation and those that abuse it.
His organisation believes education and cultural change are key to cutting alcohol abuse and he warned that heavy-handed government interference merely punishes responsible drinkers.
He said: “We are against minimum unit pricing because it does not specifically address ways of drinking alcohol that are harmful.
“Putting minimum unit prices doesn’t stop people with a drink problem from drinking so it doesn’t create a solution.
“It’s not shown to reduce the problem of abusive consumption.
“The government and the trade have to be involved in recognising problem situations. It’s part of our social responsibility.
“Prohibitionist actions like banning alcohol communication and advertising and putting health warnings on labels – it’s questionable whether these things work. You also worry whether it’s good for a free, open market.
“Restrictions haven’t worked. Countries with monopolies and restrictions create a desire for the product for the wrong reasons. It’s a desire for abuse rather than pleasure.”