Does Alcohol Advertising Cause Young People to Drink More?

Drinking too much alcohol can lead to an increased tolerance, which in turn can put people at risk of addiction. The more alcohol a person consumes, the more he or she will need in order to achieve the desired effect. Those who continue to abuse alcohol will often require an alcohol detox to break the cycle of addiction that they have found themselves in.

Despite all the warnings from health officials about the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption and the link between alcohol and various illnesses ranging from liver disease to cancer, many individuals continue to drink far more alcohol than they should every week.

With that in mind, public health experts are calling for a ban on the advertisement of alcohol in the UK, as studies have shown that marketing campaigns encourage young people to drink more.

Breaching Codes of Practice

New research has found that the advertising of alcohol across the world often breaches voluntary codes of practice set by the alcohol industry itself. It also found that these codes of practice typically did nothing to protect children.

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore the chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA), said, “It is clear that self-regulation is not working and we welcome calls for greater action from governments to protect children from exposure to alcohol marketing. We know that alcohol marketing contains content and messages that appeal to children, and that due to exposure to this advertising, children drink more, and start drinking at an earlier age.”

However, despite the worries of alcohol advertising appealing to children, reports have indicated that levels of underage drinking in the UK are currently at their lowest levels ever. Data has revealed that only seventeen per cent of children aged between eight and fifteen have admitted to drinking alcohol in the past.

Marketing Campaigns

Diageo and AB Inbev are two of the top names in the alcohol industry, and recent reports have shown that both have put around fifteen per cent of their annual sales figures back into advertising, with Diageo spending around £1.6 billion and AB Inbev $7 billion. Experts are worried that these advertising campaigns could be targeting young children and teenagers.

Events such as the 2014 FIFA World Cup were mentioned in terms of breaching codes of practice. Studies found that young people were especially exposed to alcohol advertising during this top sporting event. They also found that a lot of the marketing content was designed to appeal to the younger viewer.

Widely Promoted

Alcohol is one of the most widely abused substances in the UK, despite the fact that it can lead to harm in terms of poor mental and physical health as well as broken relationships and financial struggles. Lead editor of the study, Professor Thomas Babor from the University of Connecticut, said, “No other legal product with such potential for harm is as widely promoted and advertised in the world as alcohol. These papers provide a wealth of information to support governments in their efforts to protect children and other vulnerable populations from exposure to alcohol marketing.”

In the UK, there is a code of practice for alcohol advertising, which is enforced by the Advertising Standards Agency. Advertisements will be deemed to be in breach of these codes if they imply that alcohol can make you more confident, as a recent advert for Captain Morgan’s rum did.

Drug use specialist from the University of York, Ian Hamilton said, “Some of the messages are quite subtle, but they are persistent. So, this idea that alcohol is necessary for social success, or is both a stimulant as well as a sedative, that it removes sexual inhibition, that it improves – bizarrely – your sporting and mental abilities. Of course, the way they do it is they don’t say go and buy Carlsberg, but they’ll do endorsed interviews with celebrities, or they’ll offer free music downloads or notices of events, so they do it in quite subtle and clever ways.”

Interim Solution

It is unlikely that a complete ban on alcohol would be achievable in the UK in the short term, but an AHA spokesperson said that this would be the ‘ultimate aim’. The organisation is hoping that an immediate aim would be for an end to sports sponsorship and a watershed for advertisements of alcohol on the television. They are also hoping that cinema alcohol advertising could be restricted to over-18 certificate films. The chief executive of the UK Health Forum, Paul Lincoln, said, “Tighter alcohol marketing regulation in the UK, without industry involvement, is desirable, achievable and effective.”

Tackling Addiction

Excessive alcohol consumption often leads to addiction and the need for an alcohol detox and rehabilitation programme. It is hoped that restrictions on the advertisement of alcohol will help to tackle the problem of alcohol addiction.

Source: Public health experts call for ban on alcohol advertising in UK (The Guardian)

Who am I calling?

Calls will be answered by admissions at UK Addiction Treatment Group.

We look forward to helping you take your first step

0800 024 1476calling