Alcohol advertising needs tighter restrictions to limit the “constant bombardment” at celebrations such as Christmas and sports events, MPs and health experts have warned.
The move comes as a report by the Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA) found that the marketing of alcohol at special events made it difficult for those who were addicted or in recovery to fully participate in everyday life and could trigger relapse.
The report, titled No escape: How alcohol marketing preys on children and vulnerable people, also noted that children were regularly exposed to alcohol marketing and demonstrated high levels of brand awareness.
A 2019 survey of more than 2500 young people funded by Cancer Research UK found that 82 per cent of 11 to 17-year-olds had seen alcohol marketing in the past month.
Some 42 per cent of the age group had seen alcohol adverts on social media platforms, such as YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.
The AHA, which represents more than 60 non-governmental organisations, is calling on the government to take urgent action to protect those in recovery, as well as children, from overexposure to alcohol marketing.
The Health and Care Bill plans to introduce advertising restrictions such as a 9pm watershed for “less healthy food or drink” advertising on TV and the prohibition of online campaigns at the end of 2022.
However, alcohol is not included in the plans.
“The constant bombardment of alcohol marketing is a significant contributor to alcohol harm in the UK,” AHA chairman Professor Sir Ian Gilmore said.
“The glamourisation of a harmful product creates a culture where alcohol is seen as an essential part of everyday life. With deaths linked to alcohol at record highs, we are in desperate need of a new approach.
“The government must now introduce comprehensive marketing restrictions in both real-world and digital spaces to ensure that vulnerable adults and children are protected from alcohol advertising and its harm.”
Shadow public health secretary Alex Norris added: “Alcohol continues to hurt too many individuals, families and communities across our country. This report is another reminder that we need to do more to stop and prevent this harm.
“With deaths linked to alcohol now at record highs, the Government must urgently introduce a series of preventative measures to decrease harmful drinking. This should include comprehensive controls on alcohol marketing, as recommended by both this report and the World Health Organisation.”
with PA Wires