European consumers call for crackdown on alcohol ads

More than three-quarters of Europeans think alcohol advertising targeting young people should be banned, according to a European Commission study.

Young drinkers
Young drinkers

The survey of 27,000 European Union citizens found 77% favoured prohibition on ads targeting underage and young drinkers aged 15-24.

The Commission polled people of all ages on attitudes to possible and actual “public policies” in place across the EU to reduce alcohol-related harm.

The survey also found majority support for label warnings for pregnant women and drivers, 79% and 79% respectively, while 82% want the same warnings on alcohol advertisements.

The report is the first of its kind since the EC produced its “EU Strategy on alcohol” in 2006. The document called on member states to exchange “good practice to address issues such as selling and serving, irresponsible marketing”, while offering EC support to prevent “irresponsible marketing of alcoholic beverages”.

In the UK, advertising codes, regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority, prevent drinks marketers producing campaigns that target young people. The Portman Group, an industry body made up of the UK’s eight biggest producers, has its own code of practice on the naming, packaging and promotion of alcoholic drinks.

However, the self-regulatory system has come under fire over the last 12 months from bodies including the British Medical Association and the cross-party Health Select Committee for failure to prevent the targeting of young people.

The EC survey was carried out in October 2009.

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