Scottish Parliament Debates Alcohol Ads Ban
Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) from across the political spectrum debated the need for Scotland’s children to be better protected from the negative effects of alcohol, tobacco and unhealthy food marketing.
The debate was sparked by a Member’s Motion tabled by Kenneth Gibson MSP. This motion highlighted the discussion of these issues at the Improving Scotland’s Health: 2021 and Beyond Cross-Party Group (CPG).
Alcohol marketing has no place in childhood
Kenneth Gibson opened the debate by urging the Chamber to recognise the role of marketing in the consumption of health-harming products such as alcohol. Several points he spoke on were:
- The evidence presented by Dr Nathan Critchlow at the CPG on how exposure to alcohol marketing was associated with an increase in consumption, higher-risk alcohol use and susceptibility to alcohol among young people.
- Appraisal for the approach of Scottish Women’s Football in rejecting alcohol sponsorship deals for sporting events and the encouragement of other sporting organisations to follow their example.
- Call for the Scottish Government to formally acknowledge alcohol marketing had “no place in childhood” and that all children should play and learn in places that are protected from exposure to alcohol advertising.
MSPs from the Scottish National Party (SNP), Labour, and Scottish Conservatives raised various issues including,
- banning outdoor advertising and limiting adverts in cinemas,
- consulting with children and young people,
- supporting young people whose parents have alcohol problems, and
- the need for education at an early age.
Stronger action needed to protect children
The Scottish government has already taken several steps to tackle the pervasive alcohol problem including the new alcohol prevention framework (pdf).
However, Alcohol Focus Scotland believes urgent action is required to protect children and young people by legislating for mandatory restrictions on alcohol marketing. This policy measure is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an evidence-based, cost-effective alcohol policy best buy in tackling alcohol harm.
Such a policy is specially important as Scottish kids report seeing alcohol advertising throughout the day, at home, on the way to school, in parks, public transport and on TV.
In a positive step, all the speakers (Kenneth Gibson, Clare Haughey, Emma Harper, Rona Mckay, Monica Lennon, Alison Harris, and Brian Whittle) have signed the pledge developed by Alcohol Focus Scotland, Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs, BMA Scotland and Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems, that ‘all children should play, learn and socialise in places that are healthy and safe, protected from exposure to alcohol advertising and sponsorship.’