EC Targets Alcohol Ads to Cut Under-age Drinking

14 December 2000

Following moves to curb cigarette advertising, the European Commission is urging member states to control the marketing of alcohol in a bid to crack down on under-age drinking.

The Commission wants national governments to regulate the advertising of alcohol, and in particular to end the association of drinking with glamour, youth culture, drugs, violence and sex.

Britain has been accused by the EC of having one of the worst records in juvenile drunkenness. Wales has the highest proportion in the EU of young drinkers, with 50% of boys aged 15 claiming to drink beer on a regular basis. Lagging the Welsh in juvenile drinking – but not by much – are the Danes (43%), Greeks (42%) and the English (40%).

However, some members of the ad industry have hit back at the propopsals, concerned that alcohol advertising will become as stigmatised as tobacco. Sara Price, head of public affairs at the UK’s Advertising Association, argues that the problem lies elsewhere.

“The answer to the problem is much stricter enforcement of the laws on under-age drinking rather than clamping down on a well and effectively regulated industry,” she said. “The Commission should be looking at what causes young people to drink in the first place and how they get alcohol”.

Existing codes in Britain, Price maintains, already prevent the marketing of alcohol to under-18s. Drinks ads must not feature people appearing to be under 25, and should not make any connection between alcohol and sexual success.

The AA believes that these moves by the EC will be resisted for the moment by the UK government, but could re-emerge some time in the future as possible EC legislation.

News Source: CampaignLive (UK)