Reducing harm caused by alcohol


YoungScot Health Panel report on alcohol marketing and harm

Today [Thursday 19 November 2020] the #YSHealth panel published their new report Preventing Harm - Alcohol Marketing and Young People.

Made up from volunteers the #YSHealth panel are young people who co-create information and content to ensure the information needs of young people are met. The group were tasked with developing ideas, recommendations and solutions to protect young people from alcohol marketing in Scotland.

The young people considered their own experience as well as the evidence and research base, and had the opportunity to interview experts.

Their research helped them to identify key issues:

  • Packaging
  • Alcohol culture
  • Lack of harm reduction initiatives
  • Advertising

Following their research, the young people created recommendations to reduce the harm of alcohol advertising, and enable young people to make choices for themselves without the pressure to drink alcohol.

The recommendations include: 

  • Create an independent regulating body for alcohol advertising.
  • Devolve power to regulate TV and cinema advertising to the Scottish Government.
  • Only allow alcohol advertising before films that have an 18 certificate.
  • Introduce a watershed for alcohol advertising on television.
  • Prohibit alcohol marketing on billboards and posters near to schools, nurseries and playgrounds, and on public transport vehicles, stops and stations.
  • Stop using real people or human-like figures in alcohol advertising.
  • Offer accreditation to sports ‘Family Friendly’ venues that reduce alcohol advertising on display, limit the number of alcoholic drinks a person can buy, and hosting a number of alcohol-free events per year.
  • Stop the sale or giveaways of alcohol-branded merchandise (such as t-shirts and wristbands) at cultural or sporting events.
  • Restrict alcohol brands from using packaging with bright colours and imagery that young people find appealing.
  • Require prominent and clear health warnings on the effects of alcohol on the front of packaging.
  • Run a campaign, co-created with young people, to make young people aware of the advertising techniques used to target them.
  • Introduce digital identification for online alcohol purchases and make age verification on delivery of alcohol products mandatory.
  • Promote the Proof of Age Standard Scheme on the Young Scot National Entitlement Card as a way to verify age, fines those who don’t comply.

Today the panel volunteers presented their findings and recommendations to Ministers Maree Todd MSP, Minster for Children and Young People and Joe FitzPatrick MSP, Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing.

Alison Douglas, chief executive of AFS said, “It is vitally important that we listen to and take on board the experiences and views of young people in all matters that affect them. Children and young people are particularly vulnerable to the impact of alcohol marketing, with evidence showing that the more they are exposed, the more likely they are to drink at an earlier age and to drink more. The #YSHealth panel considers that alcohol adverts are targeted toward young people, portraying drinking alcohol as a fun, sociable. They highlight the use of humour, catchy slogans, popular songs and other tactics to appeal to a youthful market. Through careful research, and drawing on their own experiences, the Panel have developed a thoughtful set of recommendations to regulate alcohol marketing and to make advertising less appealing.  It is encouraging to hear Scottish Ministers commit to listening to, and acting on, their findings.”

Read the full YoungScot Health report here.


19 November 2020.