British public health workers are taking a stand against alcoholic advertisements. Specifically, these public health workers want to restrict ads targeted at young people. The Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA), which now represents about 40 U.K. health NGOs, said many alcoholic companies are not complying with many British advertising laws concerning this issue. Members of the AHA fear the methods alcoholic advertisers now use could make more youngsters dependent on alcoholic products.
Recent Data On Alcohol Adverts And AHA’s Efforts
AHA’s renewed call for an alcohol advertising ban was inspired by a new article published in the journal Addiction. This article looked into 14 studies concerning the effects of alcoholic companies’ advertising policies on young people. Just a few claims made in these studies include the charge that alcohol companies deliberately broke voluntary codes of practice during the 2014 Fifa World Cup, and that most of the content used in alcoholic ads today is specifically designed to persuade young people to drink.
One professor involved in this research, Dr. Thomas Babor from the University of Connecticut, said,
These papers provide a wealth of information to support governments in their efforts to protect children…from exposure to alcohol marketing.
Taking their cue from Dr. Babor’s research, groups like the AHA have ramped up their efforts to combat alcoholic advertising Great Britain. Just a few weeks ago the AHA helped remove a TV ad put out by Captain Morgan that showed young people dancing on a ship while drinking rum. The British Advertising Standards Authority said the ad breached the very codes it put in place for TV advertising.
The AHA now wants alcohol companies to be restricted from showing ads on TV, in the movie theaters, and even from sponsoring sports teams. Although these are lofty goals, the AHA doesn’t want to stop there. The AHA told members of the media they want a comprehensive ban on all alcoholic advertising. Many AHA members point to the comprehensive ban in Norway as an example for what they want to see happen in the U.K.
What Alcoholic Companies Say About AHA’s Accusations
Industry experts believe AHA has an uphill battle against the alcoholic advertising companies. Members of the Alcohol Information Partnership (AIP), which is funded by the alcohol industry, critiqued the AHA’s proposed measures as “taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut.” AIP went on to say,
The best way to reduce alcohol-related harm is to target programs and policies at harmful drinkers.
AIP members say the rate for youth alcohol consumption in the U.K. is very low right now. Currently only 17 percent of children between the ages of 8 to 15 admit to drinking on a regular basis. Another reason it looks unlikely the AHA will be able to enforce this ban on alcoholic advertising is the fact that most alcoholic companies are now reaching younger audiences on social media.
Advertising experts note that alcoholic companies are also reaching younger audiences by endorsing and funding interviews with stars in the music industry and professional sports.
Alcoholism In The Modern Day U.K.
Although youth drinking seems to be diminishing, the rate of alcohol abuse in the U.K. is still a major health issue. New statistics show that about 9 million people in England drink more than they should every day, and there are about 8,000 deaths in the U.K. each year directly related to alcohol. 7.5 million U.K. residents have no idea how harmful excessive drinking could be for the body’s system.
For those who don’t know, alcohol has been directly linked to over 60 medical conditions including liver cancer, high blood pressure, cirrhosis of the liver, and mouth cancer. Public health officials hope that by banning advertising more people in the U.K. can make wiser decisions about drinking at an earlier age.
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