The Portman Group, which represents Britain’s multibillion pound alcohol industry and ostensibly promotes responsible drinking, rejected calls made Wednesday for a ban on all alcohol advertising.

The demand came at the annual conference of the British Medical Association, which voted overwhelmingly that Parliament should implement a ban on alcohol advertising similar to that already imposed on tobacco products.

The Portman Group reacted in its usual Pavlovian manner, loftily dismissing the views of those at the sharp end who deal daily with the consequences of excessive drinking.

“Rules currently exist to regulate advertising and are enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority, the Radio Authority and the Independent Television Commission,” said the lobbyist – ignoring the inconvenient but overwhelming statistical evidence that the rules don’t work.

According to BMA conference delegate Leigh Blissett who proposed the motion, alcohol is directly responsible for 4,000 deaths a year and indirectly for 28,000 deaths, mainly through accidents. The likely outcome of the conference vote is that the BMA will prepare a report and recommendations for the government on the effects of alcohol advertising.

{Rather as Kraft has belatedly woken up to the looming impact on its bottom line of widespread concern over obesity [WAMN: 01-Jul-03], so too has global drinks giant Diageo which this week grasped the nettle by appointing Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO to handle a major nationwide campaign to promote alcohol moderation.]

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff