NO ESCAPE: HOW ALCOHOL ADVERTISING PREYS ON CHILDREN AND VULNERABLE PEOPLE
This report brings together the latest evidence on alcohol marketing in the UK.
Alcohol marketing directly influences alcohol consumption. It normalises alcohol and helps create a culture where alcohol is seen as an ‘essential’ part of everyday life. Alcohol marketing is persistent everywhere: on the streets, on public transport, in the press and magazines, online and event sponsorships to name a few.
Children and alcohol advertisement:
There is substantial evidence that exposure to alcohol marketing leads to children starting to drink earlier and more than they otherwise would.
Early age of drinking onset is associated with an increased likelihood of developing alcohol dependence in adolescence and adulthood, and also with dependence at a younger age.
The Government recognises that children must be protected from alcohol advertising, but argues that the existing self-regulatory codes are sufficient at this. However, evidence shows that children are exposed to significant amounts of alcohol advertising, which builds their brand awareness. More importantly, this influences their perceptions of alcohol.
Four in five (82%) 11-17-year-olds had seen alcohol marketing in the past month.
People in recovery:
People in recovery have highlighted that alcohol marketing can make recovery much harder. Alcohol marketing can cue the desire for alcohol and advertisements can be a trigger for relapse. The report includes several personal testimonials of this.
A recent study into the role the environment plays in recovery from alcohol dependence has confirmed that the persistent availability and marketing of alcohol was one of the largest risks.
The current self-regulatory codes of alcohol marketing are clearly not effective. The report produces two key recommendations:
Alcohol should be included in the restrictions proposed for ‘unhealthy food and drink’ in the Health and Care Bill, including a 9pm watershed on TV and on-demand services, as well as a complete online ban.
In the longer term, more comprehensive restrictions should be introduced to limit exposure to alcohol marketing, in line with WHO recommendations.