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- Five top tips for working remotely
- New evidence demonstrates that alcohol ads lead to youth drinking
- Alcohol sales fall in first year of MUP
- First study published into under 18 drinkers post MUP
- Commission on Alcohol Harm calls for evidence
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- Alcohol sales and MUP
- Alcohol-specific deaths 2018
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- Alcohol marketing and children debate in the Scottish Parliament
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- The Children's Parliament investigates an alcohol-free childhood
- Five tips for training delivery nerves
- Minimum unit pricing one year on
- More about sales data
- A family of resources it is all about prevention, education and resilience
- AFS publish Review of Licensing Board Annual Functions Reports 2017-2018
- Marketing unmasked dispelling the myths and taking a stand
- No place for alcohol marketing in sport
- Five pitfalls to avoid in evaluating training
- Scotland publishes first UK guidelines for diagnosing fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD)
- The Alcohol Framework 2018 Preventing Harm
- Scotlands new drug and alcohol strategy launched
- AFS welcome new alcohol strategy
- Recent reporting on alcohol sales data
- Cross-Party Group Improving Scotland's health: 2021 and beyond October 2018
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- Drinks companies keeping consumers in dark about risky drinking
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- AFS welcomes minimum unit pricing for alcohol
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- Truer picture of alcohol harm revealed
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- Minimum pricing blog
- Minimum pricing gets green light
- Reflections on GAPC 2017
- Alcohol brands and young people
- Time for honest conversations about alcohol
- Q&A on alcohol marketing
- UK children anxious about parents' drinking
- Quarter of Scots drink above guidelines
- Alcohol producers failing to inform public
- Concern over alcohol-related deaths
- We need to make it easier for people to drink less
- Worrying rise in alcohol-related deaths
- Minimum pricing will save lives
- Pocket money prices for alcohol continue
- Scotland's alcohol problem laid bare
- Cheap alcohol is costing Scotland dear
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- What next for reducing alcohol harm in Scotland?
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- Concern as funding for alcohol services cut
- Budget: No change in alcohol duty
- Scottish Government urged to curb alcohol marketing
- Consumers have the right to know health risks
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- Alcohol-free childhood is healthiest option
- SWA granted leave to appeal minimum pricing
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- Scottish Greens call for action on alcohol marketing
- Scottish Government receives European alcohol award
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- Half of alcohol being sold under 50p per unit
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- New toolkit to help children affected by family alcohol problems
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- Sales increase underlines need for minimum pricing
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- 82% of Scots agree drink driving is unacceptable
- Scotland's alcohol strategy - what next?
- Scotland leads way in evidence-based alcohol policy
- New report reveals impact of alcohol on emergency services
- Alcohol: a global concern
New evidence demonstrates that alcohol ads lead to youth drinking
The marketing of alcoholic drinks is one cause of underage drinking, public health experts conclude. Because of this, countries should abandon what are often piecemeal and voluntary codes to restrict alcohol marketing and construct government-enforced laws designed to limit alcohol-marketing exposure and message appeal to youth.
These conclusions stem from a series of eight review articles published as a supplement to the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, which combined the results of 163 studies on alcohol advertising and youth alcohol consumption.
Responding to the new research, Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said, “Alcohol Focus Scotland welcome this new evidence demonstrating that exposure to alcohol marketing causes young people to start drinking and to binge drink. The researchers used the same methodology – the Bradford Hill criteria – which were used to establish the causal link between tobacco and cancer.
“Just as governments have acted to protect people from tobacco marketing, it is now time for action on alcohol marketing. The alcohol industry claim the hundreds of millions of pounds they spend every year promoting their products is about competing for market share; the truth is it drives increased alcohol consumption. Children and young people are particularly vulnerable, with those exposed to marketing more likely to start drinking in the first place, more likely to drink heavily and more likely to develop a problem.
“Self-regulation has failed; it is time for robust controls on alcohol marketing to be put in place. The Scottish Government’s upcoming consultation on marketing restrictions provides a timely opportunity to consider comprehensive regulations to protect people from alcohol marketing.”
Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said: “International evidence of the harms caused by alcohol marketing to young people should be a concern for us all. Although the number of young people drinking in the UK in recent years has decreased, those who do drink are doing so at dangerous levels.
“Current restrictions on alcohol marketing are woefully inadequate: children and young people are bombarded with alcohol advertising throughout the day; including online. The government must take swift action to protect our children.”
Each of the eight review articles in the supplement evaluated a different aspect of alcohol marketing and drinking among young people. The reviews covered hundreds of studies that used different research designs and measurement techniques, and the data came from a variety of countries and scientific disciplines.
“[T]here is persuasive evidence that exposure to alcohol marketing is one cause of drinking onset during adolescence and also one cause of binge drinking,” write James D. Sargent, M.D., of the C. Everett Koop Institute at Dartmouth, and Thomas F. Babor, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the University of Connecticut, in a conclusion to the supplement.
The authors of the reviews used the Bradford Hill criteria—a well-known framework for determining causal links between environmental exposures and disease—to determine whether marketing is a cause of adolescent alcohol use. The same criteria have been used to establish that smoking is a cause of cancer and that tobacco marketing is one cause of youth smoking. Hill’s causality criteria involve determining the strength of association, consistency of the link, specificity of the association, temporal precedence of the advertising exposure, biological and psychological plausibility, experimental evidence and analogy to similar health risk exposures (e.g., tobacco advertising).
Sargent and Babor note that each of the Bradford Hill criteria were met within the eight reviews, supporting a modest but meaningful association between alcohol advertising and youth drinking.
Although such a relationship had been previously known, this is the first time any public health expert has explicitly concluded that advertising causes drinking among adolescents.
As a result, the authors recommend that Government agencies—independent from the alcohol industry—should restrict alcohol marketing exposures in the adolescent population
Alcohol Focus Scotland hopes that the Scottish Government gives consideration to this new evidence in its upcoming consultation on alcohol marketing restrictions and puts in place comprehensive regulations to protect children and young people.
This article is part of a wider supplementary issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs which contains eight review articles on the subject of “Alcohol Marketing and Youth Drinking: Is There a Causal Relationship?” Read more.