- Survey shows post-pandemic increase in drinking for some
- Scottish Government commit to further plans to restrict alcohol marketing
- Challenge and Change: Rod Anderson
- Parliament must come together to renew and reinvigorate MUP
- A responsible drinking campaign that features cocktail recipes
- Unacceptable rise in alcohol-specific deaths
- Health experts share concerns about complaint made on MUP evaluation
- Decline in alcohol treatment in Scotland
- Challenge and Change: Lived Experience Voices on Alcohol Marketing
- Blog post for Alcohol Awareness Week 2023
- Final verdict on MUP
- Alcohol and diabetes
- Doctors say lack of response on alcohol deaths could spell disaster for Scotland
- MUP reduces deaths and hospital admissions
- Alcohol hospital admissions continue to be too high
- Lessons learned from countries with marketing restrictions
- What is the effect of alcohol marketing on people with or at risk of an alcohol problem?
- ONS figures show highest alcohol deaths on record
- MUP and alcohol sales
- Scottish Government launches alcohol marketing consultation
- MUP and alcohol products and prices
- Scottish Health Survey 2021
- New licensing policy review guide
- Slight increase in alcohol-specific deaths
- Health campaigners call on Scottish Government to regulate alcohol packaging
- Scottish charity calls for ban on all alcohol promotion
- New NCD Prevention Report - Mapping Future Harm
- Online Alcohol Sales & Deliveries: A survey of young people in Scotland
- Four years of MUP
- Prominent health warnings make drinking “unappealing”
- Insights from People in Recovery
- Meet our Engagement Team Marc
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- Report on alcohol sales and harm in Scotland during the COVID-19 pandemic
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Scottish charity calls for ban on all alcohol promotion
Scottish charity, Alcohol Focus Scotland, says:
- alcohol marketing causes alcohol consumption;
- we are being bombarded by booze ads which normalise and encourage alcohol consumption at the expense of our health;
- children and young people, and people with or at risk of an alcohol problem, are particularly affected;
- people want to see change: almost half (48%) of people support a ban on all alcohol advertising;
- Scottish Government must restrict alcohol marketing to protect people's right to health.
Alcohol Focus Scotland and a group of international experts are calling on the Scottish Government to introduce statutory restrictions on how alcohol is marketed in a bid to improve the health of people in Scotland.
In a new report, the experts highlight that the high visibility of alcohol marketing means we are constantly bombarded with positive messages about how drinking can enhance our lives. Marketing has become increasingly sophisticated and more difficult to avoid as alcohol companies invest millions of pounds in seeking to build long-term relationships between us and their brands.
Yet in Scotland more than a quarter of us are drinking at levels that place our health at increased risk, and in 2020 we saw deaths from alcohol jump to the highest level since 2011. Research shows that exposure to alcohol marketing causes alcohol consumption.
The Scottish Government has taken bold steps to protect public health in the past, but if they are serious about tackling this public health emergency they cannot stop there.
The group’s recommendations to the Scottish Government include:
- Introducing statutory restrictions on alcohol marketing activities where it has powers to do so, including: outdoor and public spaces, the sponsorship of sports and events, branding of merchandise, and in print publications.
- Ensuring such restrictions explicitly include all forms of brand marketing, including identifiable fonts, straplines or colours (not just brand names).
- Making sure that alcohol displays and promotions in shops are only visible to those planning to browse or purchase alcohol.
- Mandating the display of health information on all alcohol packaging.
Almost half (48%) of people in Scotland support a ban on all alcohol advertising - with higher levels of support than opposition for this measure.1 Previous published polling shows around two thirds (62%) of people support restricting advertising, sponsorship, and promotion online and in outdoor and public spaces.
Introducing a ban on marketing in all areas where there are powers to do so - including outdoor advertising, and sport and event sponsorship - would significantly reduce people’s exposure to alcohol marketing which causes alcohol consumption. It would unplug a range of marketing channels and reduce the power of those that remain.
This would go some way to addressing the social norms which alcohol companies seek to build and reinforce through their marketing activity: that regular drinking is normal and desirable. These social norms affect us all and are among the strongest drivers of behaviour, contributing to the high levels of consumption and harm in Scotland.
But some groups are more affected, particularly children and young people, and people with or at risk of an alcohol problem.
New research examining the evidence of the impact on people with an alcohol problem, commissioned to inform the report, reveals how this group have an increased susceptibility to alcohol marketing. Adverts foster positive alcohol-related emotions and thoughts which can trigger cravings.
People in recovery from alcohol problems also shared their experiences of receiving a constant barrage of adverts for alcohol and how this threatens their recovery.
Tom Bennett, a member of the alcohol marketing expert network is in long-term, abstinent recovery from an alcohol problem. He has also a worked with people in treatment and recovery settings.
He said, “Alcohol marketing can be massively triggering; it’s designed to be. Seeing an image of a cold beer on a warm sunny day or a midwinter glass of whisky in front of an open fire can be highly appealing. Yet the message these images convey, that alcohol is life enhancing, is at odds with the health risks. Alcohol marketing invades your personal space making it impossible to get away from. For someone experiencing problems with alcohol it can put your recovery at risk. Our right to health is being compromised by the actions of companies who put their profits over our health and wellbeing. If countries are serious about protecting and promoting the rights of their people – as Scotland prides itself on being – they must act to restrict alcohol marketing.”
Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said, “The current self-regulatory approach to alcohol marketing is failing to protect people and has led to our communities being wallpapered with promotions for a product that harms our health. We only need to think of how easily we recognise brands simply from a distinctive colour or font to realise how powerful marketing is.
“Children and young people tell us they see alcohol everywhere, all the time and they worry that adverts make alcohol seem cool and exciting. People in recovery talk of how marketing jeopardises their recovery. But all of us are affected and this has to change.
She added, “People don’t just have a need to be protected from alcohol marketing they have a right to be protected. A number of other countries have already imposed bans on alcohol marketing and Scottish Government has committed to consulting in the autumn. If we want to create a more positive culture where everyone can realise their right to health, the Scottish Government must use Scotland’s full powers to restrict alcohol marketing.”
Minister for Public Health Maree Todd said: “I welcome this report from an international group of experts and will study carefully its detailed findings and recommendations
“I am determined to tackle the harmful impacts that alcohol marketing can have on children and young people, as well as the triggering effect it can have on heavy drinkers and those in recovery. We intend to consult on a range of potential alcohol marketing restrictions in Scotland later this year.”
A literature review and case study research commissioned to support this work have also been published.