October 27, 2010
A United Kingdom charity group has asked the government to ban alcohol ads from television prior to 9 p.m. and to remove them entirely from the internet, the Guardian
The government-funded agency, Alcohol Concern, proposed the ban after research found more than a million four- to 15-year-olds were exposed to alcohol promotions during England’s participation in World Cup soccer. The total could go as high as five million if all live games, not just England’s, are taken into account.
Although the ads did not break UK advertising law — which restricts programs with a higher than 20 percent audience of 10- to 15-year olds from advertising alcohol — the charity believes the World Cup numbers are a strong indicator that existing rules don’t go far enough.
“It is simply unacceptable that vast numbers of children are so frequently exposed to alcohol advertising, leading to higher levels of drinking among young people and increasingly higher levels of harm,” said Alcohol Concern Chief Executive Don Shenker.
“Alcohol producers and advertising regulators are clearly not taking their responsibilities seriously enough, and only a [primetime] ban on TV and an internet ban will prevent the vast majority of children from being exposed to alcohol marketing.”
David Poley, chief executive of the alcohol lobbying agency the Portman Group, disagrees.
“Alcohol marketing in the UK is strictly regulated to ensure it is responsible and aimed at adults,” he said. “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.”
Poley’s comments contradict those of Ian Gilmore, MD, professor and past president of London’s Royal College of Physicians, as quoted in an Alcohol Concern press release outlining the proposed ban.
“The evidence is clear—children are affected by alcohol marketing. 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,” Gilmore concluded.