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Taiwan’s Alcohol Industry Embraces Higher Standards in Pursuit of a Safer Drinking Culture 

In Taipei today, the Taiwan Alcohol Beverage Association (TABA) and the Taiwan Beverage Alcohol Forum (TBAF) signed the Alcohol Industry Marketing Self-Regulation Standards at a joint press conference, setting a precedent for alcohol companies to voluntarily adopt guidelines that exceed existing legal requirements. The initiative aims to cultivate a safe, sensible, and responsible marketplace for alcohol that aligns with public expectations and self-regulatory practices. As society and drinking habits evolve, the industry has responded by updating its self-regulation standards, first introduced in 2012, to more effectively address the current social climate and public expectations. The revised standards now include provisions for managing the increasingly prominent influence of social media personalities and online celebrities in marketing, ensuring that all promotional activities uphold ethical standards. These measures specifically prohibit marketing that targets minors, suggests that drinking is necessary for social success, or downplays the health effects of alcohol to encourage overindulgence.

Taiwan Alcohol Beverage Association (TABA): Taiwan's Alcohol Industry Embraces Higher Standards in Pursuit of a Safer Drinking Culture
The Taiwan Alcohol Beverage Association (TABA) and the Taiwan Beverage Alcohol Forum (TBAF) sign the Alcohol Industry Marketing Self-Regulation Standards, inviting global industry players to jointly boost industry growth and market maturity. (PRNewsfoto/台灣酒類飲料協會)

Taiwan’s Alcohol Industry Embraces Higher Standards

The comprehensive Alcohol Industry Marketing Self-Regulation Standards include 36 articles divided into nine categories, tackling key issues such as underage drinking, responsible consumption, and the mitigation of adverse behaviors related to alcohol use. The guidelines prohibit the employment of actors who look underage in advertisements and the use of cartoon characters that are mainly attractive to children and teenagers. They also adhere to the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s recommendations for safe drinking, which set consumption limits at no more than four units for men and three units for women per occasion (one unit equivalent to 10 grams of pure alcohol), and avoid promoting environments that are excessively noisy, exciting, or sexually suggestive.

Helen Wong, Chairperson of the Taiwan Alcohol Beverage Association and Managing Director at Edrington Taiwan, shared her satisfaction with the impressive turnout of nearly one hundred stakeholders from brand companies, distribution networks, civic groups, and international chambers at the conference. The turnout underscored the sector’s collective commitment. Recognizing the need for industry marketing to transcend legal mandates, Wong noted the adoption of more stringent voluntary standards aimed at nurturing a secure, sensible, and accountable drinking environment.

Terence Ong, Chairman of the Taiwan Beverage Alcohol Forum and Managing Director at Taiwan Pernod Ricard, acknowledged that the gathering of leading domestic and international beverage alcohol companies to advocate for responsible marketing represents a critical milestone in the industry’s evolution. He described it as a major advance towards a more mature, safe, and healthy drinking culture in Taiwan. This commitment underscores the continuation of the Forum’s two-decade-long dedication to public welfare, consistently working to improve consumer rights and encourage positive engagement throughout the industry, while aspiring to serve as a model for Asia.

Liu Shou-jen, Secretary-General of the General Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of China, stressed the escalating significance of self-regulation as a catalyst for societal advancement. With a rich background in fostering self-regulation and having advised nearly a thousand businesses, Liu argued that self-regulation not only surpasses governmental oversight in efficiency but also more aptly satisfies community demands, as evidenced by the fourteen businesses endorsing the initiative.

Lu Ping-hsun, Chairman of the Taipei Association of Advertising Agencies (TAAA), praised the alcohol industry’s united and proactive approach to social responsibility. He noted that advertising agencies are ready to work within these regulations to develop creative marketing that promotes accurate consumer perceptions, encourages healthy drinking behaviors, and addresses the long-standing stigma associated with alcohol advertising.

Chen Chin-Sheng, President of the Taipei Wine & Spirits Association, pointed out that the ongoing development of the alcohol industry is tightly linked to the general economy. By taking the lead in the industry and adopting management practices from developed Western nations, their goal is to go beyond what government efforts have achieved.

Stéphane Peden, General Manager of the French Chamber Taiwan, was pleased with the commitment shown by Taiwanese companies, observing that the Standards play a crucial role in creating an orderly business environment. He predicted that this beginning would likely trigger a cascade of beneficial effects, expanding the impact both broadly and deeply.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, the alcohol beverage industry faces significant challenges. This press conference highlighted the unity and confidence of both domestic and international businesses in addressing future challenges and opportunities, committed to establishing a safe, rational, and responsible drinking environment in Taiwan. The Alcohol Industry Marketing Self-Regulation Standards will continue to be promoted across distribution and retail channels, dining and entertainment venues, and the advertising and public relations sectors associated with alcoholic beverages, encouraging more businesses to showcase positive values to the public.

The adoption of these Standards, influenced by successful global models and adjusted for Taiwan’s specific cultural and drinking habits, was championed by both domestic and international alcohol organizations. Beyond the participation of TABA and TBAF members, Suntory Taiwan, Diageo Taiwan Branch, Pernod Ricard Taiwan, Brown Forman Taiwan Branch, CVH Spirits Limited Taiwan Branch, William Grant & Sons, Heineken Brouwerijen B. V. Taiwan Branch, Hua Wei Digita Assets Advisor International Development INC, Moët-Hennessy Taiwan, and Edrington Taiwan, the event also welcomed local alcohol producers such as King Car Group, Huang Haishan, Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor, Matsu Liquor Factory Industry Co., Ltd., and Taiwan Tobacco & Liquor Corporation.

In a broader gathering, the event brought together a range of influential groups, including the 55688 Group, Taipei Wine and Spirits Association, the General Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of China, TAAA, Taiwan Designated Driver, Taiwan Safe Driving Watch, French Chamber Taiwan, Taiwan Tobacco & Liquor Corporation Labor Union Federation, and European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan, all demonstrating the critical importance of a stable alcohol industry. The gathering further expanded its reach by welcoming distributors and retailers. Ye Bo-xi, Chairman of the Republic of China Wine and Spirit Commerce National Union, encouraged attendance, highlighting the collaborative spirit prevailing across the alcohol industry for societal benefit.