Take alcohol ads off the streets, Scottish Government urged

Alcohol advertising should be removed from streets, parks and public transport, according to a new report from Alcohol Focus Scotland. The document also wants to see a phasing out of alcohol sponsorship in sports, music and cultural events.

Advertising restrictions also need to be introduced on social media, in print and on television, says Promoting good health from childhood: reducing the impact of alcohol marketing on children in Scotland, with advertising restricted between 6am and 11pm on TV and limited to 18-certificate films in the cinema.

The measures are necessary to reduce the ‘unacceptably high’ levels of marketing that children and young people are exposed to, it states. ‘Children are very familiar with, and influenced by, alcohol brands and advertising campaigns, despite codes of practice which are supposed to protect them,’ says the organisation.

Although the report acknowledges that drinking levels among children are falling, nearly a third of children in Scotland have drunk alcohol by the age of 13, and two-thirds by 15. Alcohol marketing is ‘extensive and persuasive’, it states, with an estimated annual UK spend of around £800m. While the industry maintains that its marketing does not target children or young people, primary school pupils were found to be ‘more familiar’ with some beer brands than with the leading brands of biscuits, crisps and ice cream, the report says (DDN, March 2015, page 4).

‘An alcohol-free childhood is the healthiest and best option, yet we allow alcohol companies to reach our children from a young age,’ said Alcohol Focus Scotland’s chief executive, Alison Douglas. ‘They are seeing and hearing positive messages about alcohol when waiting for the school bus, watching the football, at the cinema or using social media. We need to create environments that foster positive choices and support children’s healthy development. We hope ministers will respond to this report and the groundswell of support for effective alcohol marketing restrictions in Scotland.’

Report at www.alcohol-focus-scotland.org.uk