Advertisers oppose drinks ad code

The Advertising Association has criticised plans by the European Union (EU) to draw up a voluntary code of practice for the drinks industry to curb advertising aimed at under-18s.

The European Commission is urging EU governments to work with the drinks industry to draw up codes of conduct to ensure man ufacturers do not target young peo ple, after a World Health Organisation (WHO) report revealed high rates of under-age drinking in member states.

The codes, if agreed by the member states, would not be legally binding but would put moral pressure on the industry.

But the Advertising Association’s deputy director-general, Lionel Stanbrook, says regulations already ensure drinks advertising does not target people who are under-age.

“I do not think the industry advertises to under-18s in the UK at the moment,” says Stanbrook.

“Sometimes, perhaps, it can be difficult to differentiate between target groups but that is not something you can legislate against.”

Both the Independent Television Commission’s and the Advertising Standards Authority’s codes prohibit drinks brands from targeting under-18s in their advertising.

A spokesman for the Portman Group, which has been set up by the drinks companies to promote sensible drinking and to tackle misuse of alcohol, says: “The present system of self-regulation is working very well.”

According to the WHO, teen agers in Wales top the European league for alcohol consumption -Âwith half of Welsh 15-year-old boys admitting to “regular beer consumption” – closely followed by England, Denmark and Greece.

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