New alcohol inquiry checks on role of ads

News2-BoozeThe role of marketing in the misuse of alcohol could come under even further scrutiny following a House of Common’s health committee inquiry launched last week.

The inquiry, which began last Thursday (February 12), includes the role of the alcohol industry and “those responsible for the advertising and promotion of alcohol” in its terms of reference.

It is also looking to examine health issues relating to alcohol misuse and the consequences for the NHS and central Government policy.

Committee members include Labour MP for Dartford Dr Howard Stoate, who last May called for a ban on alcohol advertising in sport, and Romsey Liberal Democrat MP Sandra Gidley, who introduced a Bill in the House of Commons in 2007 calling for a ban on advertising alcohol on TV before 9pm.   

A spokesman for drinks industry body The Portman Group says that it will argue that alcohol policy should focus on “targeting the decreasing minority that

misuse alcohol, not the majority who enjoy alcohol responsibly without causing harm to themselves or others” in its submission.

It will also push the “effective” and “positive role” that self regulation can play, such as the group’s code, and the importance of “social marketing”, such as educating the public about the effect of alcohol misuse in tackling alcohol misuse.

The inquiry follows the launch of the Department of Health’s “Safe. Sensible. Social” alcohol strategy consultation last summer, which includes a proposal that advertisers

be forced to include a short public health message, as an “end frame” after TV and cinema ads.

The deadline for submissions for the inquiry is March 12. The committee will then call witnesses to give oral evidence before deciding on which themes to focus on ahead of a report and a set of recommendations for the Government.

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