New Rules for Alcohol Advertising

The Journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health, January 2005 | Go to article overview

New Rules for Alcohol Advertising


Tough new rules on TV advertising of alcohol came into effect in the UK on 1 January 2005. Some health campaigners feel that the new rules do not go far enough - last year the British Medical Association called for a total ban on all advertising of alcohol, starting with television.

Recent policy positions adopted by The Society mark out a different approach. "We believe in evidence-based policymaking" says Alastair McCapra, The Society's Head of Communications, "and the BMA's present position is not well-supported by the evidence we have."

The new regulations came out of a consultation process which The Society took part in last year. The consultation was run by Ofcom (Office of Communications), which regulated this area before handing over to the Advertising Standards Agency in late 2004. The Society also supported almost all of Ofcom's proposed new restrictions on television advertising, but did not back the BMA's call for a total ban.

Alastair McCapra says "There have been cases where television advertising has been inappropriate and we think the new regulations will be an effective step in ensuring that this stops. However some people are arguing that TV advertising is closely linked with binge drinking and antisocial behaviour, and we are not satisfied that any strong link actually exists. If 17-year-olds are getting into running street fights after drinking themselves senseless on cheap beer it is difficult to see that banning TV advertisements for Baileys or Cointreau is going to make much of a difference. Likewise we do not see that brands such as Archers or Courviosier are normally associated with surges of thuggish behaviour and petty crime. The kinds of alcohol which fuel domestic violence and antisocial behaviour may be advertised on TV very little, if at all."

"One of the new regulations Ofcom proposed was to ban alcohol advertising containing animals or cartoons. …

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New Rules for Alcohol Advertising
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