‘Constant bombardment’ of alcohol ads threatens people in recovery

Alcohol marketing can act as a ‘trigger’ for relapse. Pic by Marco Verch

The ‘constant bombardment’ of alcohol adverts, particularly over Christmas and during major sporting events, makes it difficult for people in recovery ‘to fully participate in everyday life’, says a new report from the Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA). The umbrella group of more than 60 organisations is calling on the government to take urgent action to protect ‘both those in recovery and children from overexposure to alcohol marketing’.

Marketing can act as a ‘trigger’ for relapse among vulnerable groups, says No escape: how alcohol marketing preys on children and vulnerable people. Children also demonstrate high levels of brand awareness through their regular exposure to alcohol marketing, it states, with more than 80 per cent reporting seeing it within the last month and more than 40 per cent also seeing it on social media platforms. ‘Research has consistently shown that alcohol marketing is causally linked to alcohol use among young people, including starting to drink at an earlier age or engaging in riskier consumption,’ AHA states.

Prof Sir Ian Gilmore: ‘We are in desperate need of a new approach.’

Alcohol marketing was a ‘significant contributor’ to alcohol harm in the UK, said AHA chair Professor Sir Ian Gilmore. ‘The glamourisation of a harmful product creates a culture where alcohol is seen as an essential part of everyday life. With deaths linked to alcohol at record highs, we are in desperate need of a new approach. The Health and Care Bill plans to introduce advertising restrictions such as a 9pm watershed for ‘less healthy food or drink’ advertising on TV and a prohibition of paid-for ‘less healthy food or drink’ advertising online, at the end of 2022. Alarmingly, alcohol is not currently included in these plans and is bizarrely not considered a less healthy drink. This needs to change. The government must now introduce comprehensive marketing restrictions in both real world and digital spaces to ensure that vulnerable adults and children are protected from alcohol advertising and its harm.’

‘The current self-regulatory alcohol marketing system is failing to protect our children and vulnerable adults from exposure to alcohol advertising,’ added chair of the APPG on Alcohol Harm, Christian Wakeford. ‘Restrictions for tobacco advertising have been in place for many years, and stricter requirements have been proposed for junk food advertising. We need to ensure alcohol marketing regulations are entirely independent of the industry and are effective to protect the most vulnerable in our society.’




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