If you’ve seen an advert for an alcohol product that you’re worried about, you can complain to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) here.
Under current regulations, alcohol adverts must not:
- Link alcohol with seduction, sex or social success
- Link alcohol with irresponsible, anti-social, tough or daring behaviour
- Show alcohol being served irresponsibly
- Show people drinking and behaving in an adolescent or juvenile way, or reflecting the culture of people under 18 years old
If a complaint is submitted and the associated advert is found to have breached one of the conditions, the ASA recommends that the advert is removed. Currently, the ASA has no power to force the removal of an advert or impose further penalties for those companies consistently being found to break advertising regulations.
In the UK today, alcohol advertising is as commonplace as advertising for coffee or cornflakes. Yet, in the words of the World Health Organisation, alcohol is ‘no ordinary commodity’. Unlike coffee and cornflakes, alcohol can destroy lives so why do we allow alcohol producers to promote their products through so many different avenues? Advertising restrictions are accepted for other legal products that have health risks, such as cigarettes and many pharmaceuticals. A comparable approach is both necessary and appropriate for alcohol.
This situation is particularly alarming given the fact that alcohol adverts are often seen by and appeal to children. 68% of the British public agree that campaigns advertising alcohol products appeal to under 18s and recent research has found that children are more familiar with the Foster’s brand than McVities biscuits, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream or McCoy’s crisps.
The Alcohol Health Alliance believes that there should be greater restriction on the promotion and marketing of alcohol. Ultimately we believe that there is no place for alcohol advertising and sponsorship in society, but in the short term we recommend:
- There should be a ban on alcohol advertising on television before the 9pm watershed
- Alcohol adverts should only be shown at the cinema if the accompanying film has an 18 certificate
- The sponsorship of sports teams and tournaments by alcohol companies should be banned
- Alcohol advertising should only be permitted in newspapers and other adult press. Its content should be limited to factual information about brand, provenance and product strength.
- An independent body should be established to regulate alcohol promotion, including product and packaging design, in the interests of public health and community safety.
- Alcohol producers should be required to declare their expenditure on marketing and the level of exposure of young people to their campaigns.