MANCHESTER: Most British consumers believe that alcohol ads breach broadcasting regulations and that the regulatory code for the industry is inadequate, new academic research has revealed.

University of Manchester researchers recently polled 373 UK adults, aged 18-74, and found 75% of respondents thought each of a sample of seven ads breached at least one rule from the Advertising Standards Authority's Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) code, Science Newsline reported.

More than half of those questioned perceived breaches to rules designed to prevent alcohol being presented as contributing to popularity or confidence, or implying it is capable of changing mood and physical condition, or as nourishment.

The study was published in the Alcohol and Alcoholism Journal, which is co-owned by the Oxford University Press and the Medical Council on Alcoholism.

With an estimated £100m spent on TV ads for alcohol each year, the research may add to the ongoing UK debate about whether the rules should be toughened up.

Professor David French, who led the research, said: "Our results suggest that the UK alcohol and advertising industries design advertisements [that] do not appear to comply with the letter or the spirit of the BCAP code.

"Many adverts allude to themes such as youth culture, immoderation and social and sexual success, although many may not explicitly show them."

He added: "The results of the present analysis, along with the comparatively small number of breaches judged by the ASA, indicate that co-regulation of UK television alcohol adverts is ineffective and requires further consideration.

"It also suggests that only a minuscule proportion of members of the public who perceive adverts as containing elements that breach the BCAP Code actually report them."

Data sourced from Science Newsline; additional content by Warc staff