Recently Alcohol Focus Scotland and a group of international experts released a report showing that alcohol advertisements are rampant in Scotland. Scottish people are being constantly bombarded with messaging which paints the harmful products of the alcohol industry in a positive light.
But now, communities in Scotland are calling on the government to implement comprehensive alcohol marketing restrictions in all areas that the government has the power to do so. This includes outdoor and public spaces, branding of merchandise, and print publications.
Scottish communities address the growing problem of pervasive alcohol marketing:
- Alcohol marketing causes alcohol consumption;
- They are being bombarded by booze ads which normalise and encourage alcohol consumption at the expense of people’s health;
- Children and young people, and people with or at risk of an alcohol problem, are particularly affected;
- People want to see change: almost half (48%) of people support a ban on all alcohol advertising; and
- Scottish Government must limit alcohol marketing to protect people’s right to health.
According to the report, alcohol marketing has become “increasingly sophisticated and more difficult to avoid”. This increases the harm to over a quarter of the Scottish people who are using alcohol at high-risk levels. It is also harmful to children, young people, and people with or at risk of an alcohol use disorder.
The group’s recommendations to the Scottish Government include:
- Introducing statutory restrictions on alcohol marketing activities where it has powers to do so, including:
- outdoor and public spaces,
- the sponsorship of sports and events,
- branding of merchandise, and
- in print publications.
- Ensuring such restrictions explicitly include all forms of brand marketing, including identifiable fonts, straplines or colours (not just brand names).
- Making sure that alcohol displays and promotions in shops are only visible to those planning to browse or purchase alcohol.
- Mandating the display of health information on all alcohol packaging.
Alcohol industry self-regulation of alcohol alcohol marketing is failing Scottish people
Currently, alcohol marketing is self-regulated by the alcohol industry in Scotland. The findings of the report show that this self-regulation is failing Scottish people and putting more and more lives at risk.
The current self-regulatory approach to alcohol marketing is failing to protect people and has led to our communities being wallpapered with promotions for a product that harms our health,” said Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, as per The Scotsman.
We only need to think of how easily we recognize brands simply from a distinctive color or font to realize how powerful marketing is.”Alison Douglas, chief executive, Alcohol Focus Scotland
In 2020, deaths caused by alcohol increased by a record high of 19% in the United Kingdom (UK).
This is 8974 lives lost due to the products and practices of the alcohol industry.
While the alcohol-related death rate has slowed down in Scotland, it still recorded one of the highest rates in the UK.
Urgent need to protect people from alcohol marketing and international examples illustrate the benefits
Children and young people tell us they see alcohol everywhere, all the time, and they worry that adverts make alcohol seem cool and exciting,” added Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, as per The Scotsman.
People in recovery talk of how marketing jeopardizes their recovery.”
But all of us are affected and this has to change.”Alison Douglas, chief executive, Alcohol Focus Scotland
The recommended alcohol marketing measures in the report will help to denormalize alcohol use. It will also make alcohol marketing less ubiquitous in society, thus protecting children and vulnerable people much better.
There are several other countries with comprehensive alcohol marketing restrictions. Most recently, nearby Ireland has been implementing laws that reduce alcohol marketing with the gradual implementation of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act of 2018. In 2019, several improvements to alcohol marketing regulations came into force including bans on advertising in public transport, 200 meters from a school, creche, or local authority playground, in cinemas except for films that are classified as over 18, and on children’s clothing. In November 2021 prohibition of alcohol advertising in the sports area and prohibition of alcohol sponsorship came into force.
Scottish people want comprehensive restrictions on alcohol advertising, sponsorship, and promotion
Alcohol Focus Scotland’s research shows that 48% of Scottish people support a ban on all alcohol advertising.
Previously published polling shows that around two-thirds of Scots support restricting advertising, sponsorship, and promotion online and in outdoor and public spaces.
Our right to health is being compromised by the actions of companies who put their profits over our health and wellbeing,” said Tom Bennett, a member of the alcohol marketing expert network who is in long-term, abstinent recovery from an alcohol use problem, and has worked with people in treatment and recovery settings, as per STV News.
If countries are serious about protecting and promoting the rights of their people – as Scotland prides itself on being – they must act to restrict alcohol marketing.”Tom Bennett, member of the alcohol marketing expert network
People don’t just have a need to be protected from alcohol marketing, they have a right to be protected,” added Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, as per STV News.
If we want to create a more positive culture where everyone can realize their right to health, the Scottish Government must use Scotland’s full powers to restrict alcohol marketing.”Alison Douglas, chief executive, Alcohol Focus Scotland
Scottish Public Health Minister supports improvements to alcohol marketing limits
The Scottish government is already planning to discuss proposals to reduce alcohol advertising exposure to children and young people in autumn 2022. Previously the Scottish Public Health Minister Maree Todd said she found the current levels of alcohol advertising “deeply troubling”.
Minister Todd has welcomed the report and its findings and reiterated the Scottish government’s commitment to tackle the alcohol marketing problem in the country.
I welcome this report from an international group of experts and will study carefully its detailed findings and recommendations, said Maree Todd, Public Health Minister of Scotland, as per The Scotsman.
I am determined to tackle the harmful impacts that alcohol marketing can have on children and young people, as well as the triggering effect it can have on heavy drinkers and those in recovery. We intend to consult on a range of potential alcohol marketing restrictions in Scotland later this year.”Maree Todd, Public Health Minister of Scotland
Alcohol Focus Scotland: “Scottish charity calls for ban on all alcohol promotion“