Business & Leadership – UK charity calls for 9pm watershed on alcohol ads

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Over a million children in the UK between the ages of four and 15 were exposed to alcohol ads during televised England games at this year’s World Cup, according to a report launched today by the charity Alcohol Concern.

The charity said the total number of children who saw alcohol ads during the games could be as high as 5 million: 1.6 million children viewed three alcohol commercials during England’s game against Algeria, while 1.4 million saw four alcohol ads during the game against USA.   It said that even non-England games such as Uruguay versus Netherlands had 800,000 children viewing three alcohol ads shown during commercial breaks.

These ads were all shown between 8pm and 10pm and deemed within advertising regulations.

In a statement, Alcohol Concern said: “The Advertising Standards Authority claim that the regulations protect children from alcohol advertising, however Alcohol Concern dispute this and are calling for a 9pm watershed ban for alcohol adverts and a ban on advertising alcohol on the internet. Recent research, cited by Alcohol Concern, shows that the more children are exposed to alcohol marketing the greater the likelihood is that they will drink more and at an earlier age.”

Alcohol Concern chief executive, Don Shenker, said it isunacceptable that vast numbers of children are so frequently exposed to alcohol advertising. “Alcohol producers and advertising regulators are clearly not taking their responsibilities seriously enough and only a watershed ban on TV and an internet ban will prevent the vast majority of children from being exposed to alcohol marketing,” he said.

Alcohol Concern is calling for a number of restrictions on alcohol marketing, including a ban on showing alcohol advertisements in cinemas other than with 18-rated films and a ban on alcohol sponsorship of sports and music events.

“The evidence is clear – children are affected by alcohol marketing,” said Professor Sir Ian Gilmore of the Royal College of Physicians. “It influences the age at which they start drinking and how much they then drink.   Alcohol is a drug of potential addiction and if drinks producers and retailers won’t stop pushing it at our children then urgent and tough legislation is needed to protect them.”

In response alcohol industry body, The Portman Group, said there is little evidence to suggest that alcohol marketing either encourages non-drinkers, including children, to start drinking or existing drinkers to drink more.

“Alcohol marketing in the UK is strictly regulated to ensure it is responsible and aimed at adults,” said David Foley, chief executive, The Portman Group.

“Advertising of alcohol on TV is not allowed if the proportion of under-18s in the audience rises to a certain level. One cannot eliminate under-18s from the audience altogether without imposing a total advertising ban.   There is very little evidence to suggest that children’s exposure to alcohol marketing is associated with either the onset of drinking or amount consumed. The current restrictions are effective and proportionate.”


Source: Business  & Leadership, 19/10/2010