Young people * Healthy living

EU ban on alcohol advertising needed to protect children

its not big and its not clever and it will kill you too. Royal College of Physicians demand curb on alcohol advertising

A cross border initiative to ban alcohol advertising that appeals to children and adolescents is needed to protect young people from the harmful effects of alcohol, according to leading public health doctor, Peter Anderson, writing in this month's Clinical Medicine, the journal of the Royal College of Physicians.

Evidence from 13 studies of more than 38,000 young people found that alcohol advertising increases drinking by young people. Dr Anderson points to marketing as a significant influence in beginning to drink alcohol, and encouraging heavier drinking behaviour in existing young drinkers. He argues that as promotional materials commonly cross country borders through sport and popular culture, a ban on alcohol advertising that appeals to children and adolescents should be EU wide.

To date, the UK is the only country in the EU that does not have ban on one or more types of alcohol marketing, and many other countries have strict restrictions. A 2006 survey found that 76% of people in the EU would approve of banning alcohol adverts that target young people.

Dr Anderson commented: "Drinking at a young age can have a detrimental effect on brain development and lead to future dependence on alcohol. It is vital that we do more to protect children and adolescents who are much more vulnerable to the harmful effects of alcohol than adults. Banning advertising that appeals to young people would lessen the attraction of drinking for children and adolescents, and an EU wide ban could prevent 5% of all alcohol-related ill-health."

Professor Ian Gilmore, President of the Royal College of Physicians and Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance said:

"We owe it to the next generation to protect them from the health harms of alcohol misuse, and the evidence is now clear that restricting access to alcohol advertising, often aimed at young people, is a key element of such a strategy."

This article was published on Fri 3 April 2009



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