- 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
- Meet our Engagement Team Megan
- Report on alcohol sales and harm in Scotland during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Sugar content in wine revealed
- Alcohol hospital admissions lower during pandemic
- Study reveals those already at risk from heavy drinking bought more alcohol during lockdowns
- Alcohol policy measures could reduce ambulance callouts
- 18.6% increase in deaths from alcohol in 2020
- Widespread support for calls to increase minimum unit price for alcohol to 65p
- Students as Change Agents
- Health charities call for action to save lives from Scotlands biggest killers
- Three quarters of Scots back new controls to help protect children from alcohol advertising
- Alcohol-specific deaths in Scotland increase
- More accurate estimates for the burden of Alcohol on the Ambulance Service: around 1 in 6 callouts in Scotland are alcohol related
- How can alcohol labels be improved to help people make informed consumption choices
- Health experts call for better alcohol labelling
- Young people and their views on alcohol marketing
- Lowest alcohol sales in Scotland for 26 years
- Minimum unit pricing has lasting impact study shows
- Euros renews call for action to protect children from alcohol sports sponsorship
- Current alcohol labelling of little relevance to young adult drinkers
- Governments should step up efforts to tackle harmful alcohol consumption
- Scottish public and leading health experts back changes to alcohol labelling
- AFS calls for 65p minimum unit price for alcohol
- How will the main parties prevent harm from alcohol?
- Alcohol labelling reform is way past its sell by date
- Alcohol policy priorities for the next parliament
- Young drinkers believe prominent health warnings on alcohol could boost risk awareness
- Alcohol and the Workplace Effective Interventions
- Alcohol sales and consumption in Scotland during the pandemic
- How can we prevent alcohol deaths?
- Alcohol Deaths and Minimum Unit Pricing
- YoungScot Health Panel report on alcohol marketing and harm
- Young Scots show support for restrictions on alcohol marketing
- New release of alcohol related hospital admissions
- Better alcohol labelling – A way to boost awareness of the risk between alcohol and cancer?
- NICE Guidelines on FASD Surveillance or Support?
- Alcohol Deaths Prevention Support
- Almost half of Scots in favour of minimum unit pricing
- Leading health charities call for action in Scotland
- Health experts campaign for better understanding of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
- Health experts call for alcohol labelling overhaul
- Australian ministers agree to visible pregnancy warning
- Alcohol Focus Scotland welcomes new WHO report on alcohol pricing
- Survey shows Scots lockdown drinking rise caused by stress
- Statistical analysis of off-trade alcohol sales in the year following MUP
- Alcohol Focus Scotland Review of statements of licensing policy 2018 to 2023
- We need to continue long-term focus on alcohol
- Scots report changing drinking patterns during coronavirus lockdown
- Time to Blow the Whistle on Alcohol Sport Sponsorship
- 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
- Two years on Are annual functions reports reaching their potential?
- We need to do more to protect our children and young people
- New Alcohol Deaths Prevention Support Now Available from AFS
- Scottish primary children call for action on alcohol
- Its time to tell us whats in our drinks
- A home for Rory
- Making a bad impression - blog post
- Alcohol marketing and children debate in the Scottish Parliament
- Alcohol sales and MUP
- Lowest alcohol sales in 25 years
- Research into fall in violence
- The Children's Parliament investigates an alcohol-free childhood
- 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
- 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
- Diageo is failing to provide latest guidelines on their products
- Drinks companies keeping consumers in dark about risky drinking
- Reducing alcohol consumption can address health inequalities
- Global first alcohol policy set to save hundreds of Scots' lives
- AFS welcomes minimum unit pricing for alcohol
- Truer picture of alcohol harm revealed
- Alcohol causes 3,700 deaths in Scotland every year
- Scotland's licensing system needs clearer direction
- Minimum pricing blog
- Minimum pricing gets green light
- Alcohol brands and young people
- Time for honest conversations about alcohol
- Q&A on alcohol marketing
- UK children anxious about parents' drinking
- 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
- One drink a day can increase breast cancer risk
- Poverty linked to increased harm from alcohol
- What next for reducing alcohol harm in Scotland?
- Scotland must do more to turn tide of alcohol harm
- Concern as funding for alcohol services cut
- Scottish Government urged to curb alcohol marketing
- Consumers have the right to know health risks
- Alcohol-free childhood is healthiest option
- SWA granted leave to appeal minimum pricing
- Scottish Greens call for action on alcohol marketing
- SWA will appeal to UK Supreme Court
- SWA urged to respect minimum pricing decision
- Minimum pricing can be implemented in Scotland
- AFS welcomes revised alcohol consumption guidelines
- Emergency services face shocking levels of alcohol abuse
- Every child has the right to grow up safe from alcohol harm
- New toolkit to help children affected by family alcohol problems
- Alcohol campaigners unite to call for stronger protection from alcohol advertising to children
- No completely 'safe' level of drinking
- New alcohol guidelines published
- Minimum pricing - European court ruling
- Alcohol: a global concern
What is the effect of alcohol marketing on people with or at risk of an alcohol problem?
In June 2022, Alcohol Focus Scotland and a group of international experts published a report highlighting the high visibility of alcohol marketing in our lives and 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. A literature review on the effect of alcohol marketing on people with or at risk of an alcohol problem was also commissioned to support this work. We asked lead author Professor Rachael Murray from the School of Medicine, University of Nottingham, for a blog summarising the research.
Why is this important?
Harmful use of alcohol results in millions of deaths around the world and costs the NHS and society billions of pounds each year. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a term which describes a number of medical conditions characterised by an inability to stop or control alcohol use despite negative social, occupational and health consequences.[i] AUDs are the biggest risk factor for early death and disability among 15-49 year olds.[ii]
Alcohol marketing contributes to the problem of AUDs by influencing the availability and advertising of alcohol products. There has been a lot of research looking at how alcohol marketing impacts children and young people, which has concluded that alcohol marketing lowers the age at which individuals start drinking, increases their intention to drink, the amount they drink and leads to higher levels of dangerous drinking.[iii] [iv] Overall the evidence has been judged strong enough to be able to say that alcohol marketing causes drinking in young people.[v]
There has been less research as to the effect of alcohol marketing in adults. Adults with AUDs may be more influenced by and vulnerable to alcohol marketing; heavy alcohol users are more likely to be exposed to and notice alcohol adverts[vi] and react strongly to alcohol cues.[vii] Protecting this group is not currently considered under alcohol marketing regulations.
We therefore conducted a rapid review of research studies which investigated the effect of alcohol marketing on people with or at risk of an AUD. We included both quantitative studies (which describe how many people think or act in a certain way) and qualitative studies (which describes peoples’ thoughts, feelings and experiences) and separated our findings according to whether study participants were currently experiencing or were at risk of developing an AUD (5 studies), or if they were in recovery from an AUD (6 studies).
Findings - People with or at risk of an AUD
A small number of studies have looked at the effect of alcohol advertising on people with or at risk of an AUD. One study assessed the direct effect of advertising on alcohol consumption and found no effect. However, all the studies reported outcomes which could potentially lead to increased consumption. These included experiencing more positive emotions relating to alcohol, being more likely to consume alcohol in preference to water, a greater awareness of alcohol branding in newspapers and magazines and a greater appeal of alcohol adverts in heavy drinkers. No qualitative studies in this group were found.
Findings - People in recovery from an AUD
A small number of studies suggest an effect of alcohol advertising in this population, with around three quarters of participants in one study recalling seeing alcohol marketing and around one quarter reporting that this marketing was influential. Another study reported increased alcohol craving after exposure to alcohol advertisements. Qualitative studies reported that individuals in recovery from problematic drinking felt that alcohol adverts triggered a desire to drink, particularly where the advert contained their preferred drink. Some even reported the adverts to be responsible for their relapse to drinking. Television advertising was reported as being particularly powerful as it was felt that the television intruded into their home. The same was said of adverts containing party scenes as they created an association with good times. Conversely, adverts were often reported as creating feelings of loss, anger, sadness, guilt and exclusion from the norm in this population. Finally, in-store advertising and high visibility of alcohol products were identified as a risk to recovery.
Taken together, the results from the identified studies suggest that there is likely an effect of alcohol marketing in people with or at risk from an AUD. Further research in this area is needed; however, this risk should be a concern for marketing regulators.
[i] American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed. Washington DC). 2013.
[ii] GBD 2016 Alcohol and Drug Use Collaborators. The global burden of disease attributable to alcohol and drug use in 195 countries and territories, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. The Lancet Psychiatry. 2018;5(12):987-1012.
[iii] Jernigan D, Noel J, Landon J, Thornton N, Lobstein T. Alcohol marketing and youth alcohol consumption: a systematic review of longitudinal studies published since 2008. Addiction. 2017;112 Suppl 1:7-20.
[iv] Anderson P, de Bruijn A, Angus K, Gordon R, Hastings G. Impact of alcohol advertising and media exposure on adolescent alcohol use: a systematic review of longitudinal studies. Alcohol and Alcoholism. 2009;44(3):229-43.
[v] Sargent J, Babor T. The Relationship Between Exposure to Alcohol Marketing and Underage Drinking Is Causal. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. 2020;Sup 19:113-24.
[vi] Petersen Williams P, Morojele N, Londani M, Harker Burnhams N, Parry C. Alcohol Advertising, Affordability and Availability, and the Effect on Adult Heavy Drinking and Symptoms of Alcohol Problems: International Alcohol Control Study (South Africa). Substance Use and Misuse. 2019;54(11):1751-62.
[vii] Noel J, Xuan Z, Babor T. Perceptions of Alcohol Advertising among High Risk Drinkers. Substance Use and Misuse. 2018;53:1403-10.