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ACS boss encourages c-stores to make their voices heard in public heath debate

Published:  20 April, 2016

Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) chief executive James Lowman has called on the convenience sector to engage with local decision makers in the wake of stricter alcohol laws and the so-called "sugar tax".

In his introductory remarks at the ACS Summit'16 at the NEC Birmingham last night (April 18), Lowman predicted that local public health interventions on alcohol, tobacco and sugar would become more common in the coming years - and is a big strategic threat for retailers to face up to.

Lowman highlighted the increasing level of power being wielded by local councils and police forces to restrict the sale of certain products on public health grounds.

He said: "The public health debate is one of the most important areas of regulation that the sector faces over the coming years. While the media focuses on national interventions, it is at a local level that I think convenience stores will face their biggest regulatory challenges.

"The Government is making it easier for councils and the police to limit the number of alcohol outlets, with some councils even pushing for more powers to control the number of stores selling fast food or sugary products, so it is absolutely essential that we engage on a local level."

In recent months, the Government has announced it intends to extend councils' powers to restrict the number of alcohol licences in an area, published a consultation paper on introducing a licensing system for tobacco and has announced a levy on suppliers who sell sugary drinks.

Earlier this year, tough new guidelines were issued on alcohol consumption, and are now some of the strictest in Europe.

The Government said that men and women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week - the equivalent of six pints of average strength beer or seven glasses of wine - in order to keep their health risks low.

The new Department of Health limits - which came into effect in January - replaced the previous ones on drinking, which were set out 21 years ago.