Update: Doctors call for a complete ban on alcohol ads

Britain’s top doctors are calling for a total ban of alcohol advertising and in a bid to tackle alcohol misuse among young people.

Drinking

The British Medical Association (BMA), which represents British doctors, is also demanding an end to the sponsorship of sports and music events by alcohol brands.

In its “Under the Influence” report, the BMA says the Government needs to look at “effective alternatives” to the current self-regulatory system, administered by the Advertising Standards Authority.

It claims the £800m the industry spends each year on marketing alcohol serve to “serve to normalise alcohol as an essential part of every day life, adding that it is therefore “no surprise that young people are drawn to alcohol”.

However, alcohol industry body the Portman Group, rejects the claims, saying effectiveness of the current self-regulatory system is “recognised by several independent and authoritative bodies” and that advertising causes “brand switching, not harmful drinking”.

The ASA recently announced that in review of over 450 alcohol ads carried out in Christmas last year, 99% were found to be compliant with the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) codes it administers.

The watchdog says: “The ASA rigorously enforces the rules and does not hesitate to take action if the rules have been broken”.

The BMA is also calling for the UK to follow the Scottish Government’s lead in setting a minimum price per unit of alcohol as well as for alcohol to be taxed higher than the rate of inflation in order to ease the burden alcohol related on the NHS.

The Government has ruled out a minimum pricing, instead proposing a new mandatory code of practice which could see and an end to “irresponsible” price promotions, while forcing supermarkets to display information on the health impacts of alcohol.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health, says it is making “substantial progress” in tackling alcohol harm including the mandatory code proposals.

“We’re working harder than ever to reduce alcohol harm, but it’s not always right to legislate. We take all evidence into account and react proportionately,” she says.

The industry recently launched its own attempt to change attitudes towards binge drinking and drunkenness among young people, the £100m “Campaign for Smarter Drinking” was developed by 45 companies in partnership with industry-funded charity Drinkaware and the Government.

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