Alcohol Concern said the current regulatory system is failing young people – citing “numerous” examples of inappropriate advertising and high levels of alcohol brand recognition among the young.
Alcohol Concern’s report was based on research by its Youth Alcohol Advertising Council (YAAC) – a group of young people in England and Wales who meet quarterly to review alcohol advertising against key principles of the rules that regulate content, the Advertising Standards Code.
The charity wants new rules restricting what adverts could mention about an alcohol product – arguing that only characteristics such as strength, origin, composition and means of production should be described.
The charity also demanded a ban on alcohol advertising in the trailers of films shown in cinemas with less than an 18 certificate.
It urged the Advertising Standards Authority to operate in a “more proactive way” – instead of “depending on complaints from the public” before looking into advertising code breaches.
The report called for statutory and independent regulation of the alcohol and advertising industries, also calling for a review of the way digital and online content is regulated.
In May, figures released by the regulator Ofcom suggested children saw an average of 3.2 alcohol adverts per week in 2011 – compared with 2.7 in 2007.
It called for the UK’s advertising regulators to reassess the rules that limit children from being exposed to alcohol advertising on TV.
Alcohol Concern chief executive Eric Appleby said: “Children and young people are seeing more alcohol advertising than in the past and are better able to recognise alcohol brands than those of cakes or ice cream.
“This has to be a wake-up call to the fact that the way we regulate alcohol advertising isn’t working… Young people tell us that they think alcohol advertising sends a message that it’s cool and normal to drink, often to excess. It’s time we reset the balance between commercial and public interest.”
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