Alcohol is one of the most heavily marketed products on our shelves with a total market value of approximately €6 billion in Ireland each year.
Research commissioned by Alcohol Action Ireland and carried out by the Health Promotion Research Centre in NUI Galway found that more than 90% of children reported that they were exposed to traditional, or offline, alcohol advertisements in the week prior to the study and more than half saw four or more alcohol advertisements per day. Meanwhile, 77% of children reported exposure to alcohol marketing online and 61% of children reported that they owned alcohol branded merchandise.
Dr Michal Molcho, of the Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway, said their findings indicate that there is widespread exposure to alcohol marketing among children aged 13 and upward, and that increased exposure to alcohol marketing increased the chances of children to report drinking, binge drinking, and drunkenness.
“These findings clearly indicate that the more intense the exposure, the greater the risk of drinking alcohol and engaging in risking drinking behaviours. Given that these findings echo previous studies, coupled with the vulnerability of young people to alcohol, there is a clear need for immediate action on alcohol marketing regulation,” said Dr Molcho.
Dr Patrick Kenny, School of Marketing, Dublin Institute of Technology, said the study provides a snapshot illustrating how little protection is currently afforded to Irish children from alcohol marketing.
“The bottom line is that the current regulatory system does not protect children from exposure to alcohol marketing and this failure is associated with increased consumption. In a very real sense, these children are victims of society’s failure to protect them and creating an environment where children are free from alcohol marketing is a children’s rights issue that requires immediate attention,” said Dr Kenny.