The Government has given its strongest indication yet that alcohol advertising will come under greater scrutiny in a bid to tackle binge drinking.
Dawn Primarolo, minister of state for public health, has ruled out higher taxation on alcohol but has said advertising will be closely examined.
Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Primarolo said that putting up tax might be expected to “do little” in a country that already had “the second highest tax regime for alcohol in Europe.”
She went on to argue that as a public health minister she had to look at all issues involved. “It is about advertising and targeting, particularly at certain groups, and we are addressing that with the Advertising Standards Authority.”
The minister also defended the extended licensing hours, introduced by the Labour Government, and added: “The number of pubs and clubs who have increased their hours, not necessarily gone to 24 hours, maybe an hour at weekends more is something like 1%.”
It emerged last week that the Government was plotting to announce a statutory 9pm watershed blanket ban on all food and alcohol advertising later this year (MW November 8).
The Advertising Association said at the time that the omission of any mention of public health issues in relation to communications and advertising in Gordon Brown’s first Queen’s Speech as Prime Minister had “raised suspicions” and put the industry on alert.