Retailers are removing Speedball beer from sale because it is promoting a lethal and illegal drugs mix.
Shelves across the UK are being cleared of Speedball beer because it is promoting the illegal drugs mix that killed Hollywood stars John Belushi and River Phoenix.
The Independent Complaints Panel has upheld a complaint under the Portman Group’s Code of Practice brought by Alcohol Focus Scotland that the beer’s marketing is associated with illicit drugs.
Speedball is the name given to the potentially lethal practice of combining heroin and crack cocaine to give both sedative and stimulant effects.
The drink is marketed by its producer, BrewDog, as a “class A ale” containing “a vicious cocktail of active ingredients” which creates a “happy-sad” effect.
David Poley, Portman Group Chief Executive, said the drink’s marketing is grossly irresponsible:
“The blurring of alcohol and illicit drugs fosters unhealthy attitudes to drinking and trivialises drug misuse. BrewDog is profiteering from the scourge of illegal drugs, mocking the misery caused by misuse. The company is seriously misguided in its claim to be educating and preventing people from misusing drugs. We are taking urgent action to protect the public from exposure to such negligent marketing.”
Notes to editors
The Home Office estimates there are 332,000 problem drug users (heroin, morphine, codeine and/or crack cocaine) in England resulting in 4 deaths every day (source: Home Office publication ‘Drugs:protecting families and communities.’) In the twelve months to April 1 2008, 12,562 people in Scotland were added to the Scottish Drugs Misuse database. 69% (7,047 individuals) were using heroin. (source: Drug Misuse Information Scotland).
The full complaint adjudication can be read here: http://www.portmangroup.co.uk/?pid=25&level=2&bid=235
Speedball is produced by BrewDog Ltd in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire. A Retailer Alert Bulletin will now be issued to retailers urging them to remove the drink from sale until its marketing is altered to comply with the Code.
Since the Code and the Independent Complaints Panel were introduced in 1996, over 70 drinks have been found to be in breach of the Code. Retailers do not sell any drink found to be in breach of the Code until that drink’s marketing has been altered to comply with the Code. This sanction provides a strong commercial threat to companies, encouraging them to ensure that their marketing is responsible.
The Portman Group’s Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks applies to pre-packaged alcoholic drinks and the promotional activities of drinks producers. The Code covers a drink’s name and packaging, press releases, websites, sponsorship, sampling, branded merchandise, advertorials and all other promotional material. It does not apply to alcohol advertising which is regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority.
The Code prohibits the marketing of alcoholic drinks to under-18s; the alcohol content of a drink must be made absolutely clear; its alcoholic strength should not be dominant; it must not encourage rapid or down-in-one drinking; there must be no association with illegal drugs, bravado, aggression or anti-social behaviour and any suggestion that the drink will lead to sexual success or increased popularity is also banned.
All complaints are heard by the Independent Complaints Panel which is chaired by Sir Richard Tilt, Head of the Social Security Advisory Committee, and whose other members are Callum Jacobs, Angela Sarkis CBE, Nigel Long, Jon Eggleton, Revd. Canon Professor Martyn Percy and Barbara O´Donnell.
The Portman Group is the largest financial supporter of the Drinkaware Trust, the new charity educating consumers about responsible drinking. Portman Group member companies are: Bacardi-Martini, Beverage Brands, Brown-Forman; Carlsberg UK; Coors Brewers; Diageo; Inbev UK; Pernod Ricard UK; and Scottish & Newcastle.
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