People all over the world share in the tradition of enjoying Sekt on special occasions. The German Sekt environment offers an incomparable level of diversity and quality. The German Sekt market is the largest in the world and boasts the highest sales. Sekt is therefore an important part of our culture and society. And only conscious, responsible enjoyment can do these qualities justice.
But it’s also true that there’s a risk of abuse associated with alcoholic beverages, as with other luxury items. German Sekt producers do not deny this fact. Particularly in response to ongoing discussions on a European level, German Sekt producers are taking a stand on central issues associated with the consumption of alcoholic beverages, along with their partner association, Bundesverband Wein und Spirituosen International e.V. (BWSI).
German Sekt producers are committed to promoting targeted information and awareness campaigns over the long term as well as acceptance of and support for the fact that, in certain life situations, alcohol consumption should be limited or avoided entirely. Examples include alcohol at the workplace, during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, and when taking medication or driving.
It’s well known that excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages can alter the ability to perceive and respond, which particularly when driving can be extremely dangerous to yourself and other road users.
It’s therefore essential to inform adolescents and young adults early on of the dangers of drinking and driving, with target group-specific awareness campaigns. Early road safety education for children and adolescents, beginning at home, at school and, of course, during driving lessons, make a valuable contribution.
Financed by VDS, BWSI and other associations in the alcohol industry, the DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE campaign should therefore primarily address drivers aged 18 to 24 and inform them about the dangers of drinking and driving in a way that is not perceived as finger-wagging. It’s in this context that we signed the European Road Safety Charter in 2008, which verifies that the DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE campaign has established itself and has been confirmed by the European Commission as effective and sensible for years.
But it’s also important that government agencies carry out the corresponding inspections and thus ensure compliance with the existing laws. It’s merely the tightening of laws without the corresponding inspections that, in our view, doesn’t make much sense.
There’s a widespread social consensus that rules for adolescents regarding the consumption of alcoholic beverages should be different from those for adults. It’s true that excessive alcohol consumption has an especially negative impact on adolescents.
For adolescents, drinking alcoholic beverages is often a way for them to express that they are or will soon be adults, which is why parents, in particular, need to be aware of their responsibility and function as a role model when it comes to alcohol consumption. As a result, it’s essential for parents to behave responsibly by setting an example and supervising when alcoholic products are consumed.
It’s our opinion that age limits (16 years for wine, Sekt and beer and 18 years for spirits) also play an important role in learning to enjoy alcoholic beverages responsibly. Sekt and wine are traditional cultural beverages primarily enjoyed with meals and at family and social events. It’s in this way that adolescents learn to consume alcoholic products responsibly. Many adolescents begin to take part in social life on their own between the ages of 16 and 18. They increasingly live their lives on their own and independent of the family. Increasing the age limit for the consumption of wine, Sekt and beer would pose the risk of driving these age groups, for instance, out of restaurants and bars and into private spaces, which for the most part cannot be supervised.
When it comes to the availability of alcoholic beverages to adolescents and young adults and their consumption, all those responsible, including, in particular, the parents, schools, associations, government and business, need to work closely together. The aim needs to be to minimise the risk of abuse with long-term, lasting prevention efforts. Prevention refers to efforts to increase the awareness of responsible consumption of alcoholic products among adolescents, beginning at home and at school. There are no alternatives to teaching and prevention. The model of an alcohol-free society is not realistic.
All those responsible, including manufacturers, retailers and restaurants, need to observe regulations for the protection of minors, with any violations punished accordingly by the responsible authorities. Here, too, we want to do our part to ensure that enforcement of existing laws takes priority over adopting new ones.
Advertising of alcoholic beverages which addresses adolescents directly and commercial communication which aims for excessive alcohol enjoyment do not exist in the German Sekt industry.
In 1976, the Verband Deutscher Sektkellereien e.V. and other associations worked with the German Advertising Federation (ZAW) to develop a ‘voluntary code of conduct regarding commercial communication for alcoholic beverages’.
In this code of conduct, German Sekt producers explicitly acknowledge their obligation to develop commercial communication for their products with a high degree of responsibility. The German Advertising Standards Council is responsible for monitoring. The Council’s few complaints over the years demonstrate that, in this area, the sector’s self-regulation mechanism is successful.
Our member companies explicitly distance themselves from sexist, xenophobic advertising as well as advertising that addresses adolescents directly. According to German wine and spirits importers, another advertising restriction for alcoholic beverages, as occasionally called for by individual ‘interest groups’, misses the mark entirely. Examples in Scandinavian countries demonstrate that advertising limitations and bans in digital and print media do not lead to a drop in consumption or a different consumption behaviour. Advertising primarily serves to distribute products according to categories.
The vast majority of the population consumes alcoholic beverages responsibly, meaning moderately. It’s not consumption itself that is the problem, but rather alcohol abuse among a smaller portion of the population.
Any measures that aim to generally reduce per capita consumption would primarily affect the majority of those who enjoy alcoholic beverages responsibly. This cannot be the goal.
The idea of limiting the availability of alcoholic beverages, which many contribute to the discussion, cannot serve the purpose of battling alcohol abuse. Looking back, government prohibition efforts have rarely been successful.
Instead, the limited availability of alcoholic beverages gives rise to the desires which at-risk and potentially at-risk groups cannot let go of. In addition, there’s also an increased danger of the illegal and unsupervised procurement of alcohol.
Sekt taxes are already high. Any additional tax increases would affect those who enjoy these products responsibly. The experience of high-tax countries demonstrates that this type of tax policy is more likely to increase than limit excessive consumption by at-risk groups.
The political health-oriented aim of preventing increased alcohol consumption or alcohol abuse among at-risk groups and adolescents can only be achieved through long-term prevention efforts. The existing regulations for the protection of minors offer sufficient opportunities to counteract and stop alcohol abuse especially among adolescents.
Wine in Moderation
Our association is a member of Wine in Moderation, a pan-European programme established to promote responsible, moderate consumption of Sekt and wine. The programme is committed to responsible, moderate enjoyment of wine as a cultural, social norm and promotes a healthy lifestyle to prevent alcohol abuse and its damaging effects.
Don’t Drink and Drive
Don’t Drink and Drive is a campaign operated and supported by top associations in the alcohol industry in the areas of Sekt, wine, beer and spirits.
The sector hereby shows its clear stand on avoiding its products before driving. Why do we do that?
The aim of the campaign is to further reduce the number of alcohol-related accidents. Young drivers, in particular, should be involved in alcohol-related accidents less frequently, which is why we want to reach as many drivers as possible with the message that alcohol and driving are not a good mix.
Curious? Have a look here.