L&GNSW proposes regulatory action against hard soft drinks, citing Hard Solo

March 18, 2024
By Cody Profaca

Liquor & Gaming NSW (L&GNSW) is proposing a regulatory change to the existing Liquor Regulation 2007 (NSW) in order to better enforce the growing category of alcoholic soft drinks. 

The proposal was issued in a letter from Jane Lin, Liquor & Gaming Executive Director – Regulatory Operations & Enforcement at L&GNSW, to Jayne Taylor, CEO at the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code Scheme (ABAC). ABAC recently ruled CUB’s Hard Solo to be in breach of its Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code, inciting its name change to Hard Rated.

“As discussed, following the determination that Hard Solo was undesirable due to its appeal to minors, L&GNSW is considering further formal regulatory action under the Liquor Act 2007 (NSW) (the Act) to prohibit a class of liquor products in NSW that leverages well-known soft drink branding,” said Lin.

The article argues that products such as Hard Solo failed to satisfy three aspects of section 100 of the Act: 

  • “(c) the name of the liquor product, or its design or packaging, is likely to be attractive to minors, or
  • (d) the liquor product is likely, for any reason, to be confused with soft drinks or confectionery, or
  • (e) the liquor product is, for any other reason, likely to have a special appeal to minors.”

L&GNSW’s decision regarding Hard Solo follows an evaluation process that included the consultation of various drug and alcohol research bodies. 

“A common thread among them was the high popularity of soft drinks among young people and the particular vulnerability of minors to alcohol-related injuries and diseases,” said Lin.

“L&GNSW has formed the view that liquor products which leverage established or iconic soft drink brands inherently hold appeal to minors and believes this risk warrants consideration of regulatory action under section 100 of the Act.” 

As a result, L&GNSW proposes that a new regulation be added to the Liquor Act 2007 (NSW) along the following lines:

“Any liquor product the lead branding elements of which are that of an established or iconic soft drink brand (or words to that effect).”

The Independent Brewers Association (IBA) has said that proposed changes to the legislation could have significant real repercussions for the industry. It has requested that any brands that fear their products might be impacted by the proposed changes contact them directly

L&GNSW is currently consulting relevant industry representatives to assess industry support for the proposal. The letter was sent to the ABAC as a request for relevant contacts and guidance. 

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