Reducing harm caused by alcohol


Alcohol campaigners unite to call for stronger protection from alcohol advertising to children

Ahead of the coming Holyrood election, alcohol campaigners have warned that protecting children from alcohol marketing must be given far greater priority by all parties in the next parliamentary term.

Alcohol Focus Scotland, BMA Scotland, SHAAP and Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol & Drugs have joined together to call on Scotland’s politicians to pledge to do more to reduce the exposure of children to alcohol advertising.

Research has shown that exposure to alcohol marketing reduces the age at which young people start to drink, increases the likelihood that they will drink and increases the amount of alcohol they will consume once they have started to drink.

Just this week, a systematic review of research into alcohol sponsorship by the Institute of Alcohol Studies found consistent evidence of a link between exposure and risky drinking behaviour in children.  Also, in a 2014 poll commissioned by the Alcohol Health Alliance, 69% of people were found to believe that alcohol advertising campaigns appeal to under-18s.

Scottish Parliament candidates from all parties are being asked to pledge their support for action to enable children to grow up free from exposure to alcohol advertising.

Alcohol Marketing Pledge

Alison Douglas, Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said:

“Everyone agrees that children shouldn’t see alcohol advertising but they do. Watching sport on TV, waiting for the school bus, at the cinema or using social media – all of these activities are exposing our children to positive messages from alcohol companies. As well as being morally wrong, there is clear evidence that exposure to alcohol marketing leads children to start drinking at an earlier age and to drink more.

“The current codes are failing to protect children. It’s time to take effective action in Scotland and ensure our children can play, learn and socialise in places that are free from alcohol marketing."

Dr Peter Bennie, Chair of BMA Scotland said:

“The presence of alcohol branding is currently ever-present in the lives of children in Scotland. There can be few children in Scotland who are not exposed to some form of alcohol advertising or branding on an almost daily basis.

“The next parliamentary term must see concrete action to protect children from alcohol marketing and I hope all candidates at this election will sign up to endorse that.”

Eric Carlin, Director of SHAAP (Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems) said:

“Doctors and nurses in Scotland see on a daily basis the harms that are caused to young people and their families by alcohol. Rather than accepting the inevitability that all young people will drink and that parents and carers are powerless to do anything about it, we need to challenge the ways that young people are exposed to alcohol promotions, in advertising in the middle of soap operas and entertainment programmes, sports and musical events and social media.

“Many research studies indicate that use of alcohol by teenagers can have long-lasting effects on the physiology of the brain. Social activities for young people do not need to be dominated by pressure to fit in by drinking alcohol.”

Christine Duncan, Chief Executive of Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol & Drugs said:

“Through our frontline services we recognise the full impact of problematic alcohol on families which is often as real, and present for some families, as alcohol branding in day-to-day life. Alcohol marketing serves as a continual reminder of some of the difficulties being faced by families and their loved ones.

“We urge all candidates to recognise the impact of alcohol marketing on children and young people and encourage elected representatives to pledge to take action to reduce the exposure of children to alcohol advertising in the next parliamentary term.”