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Charity urges ban on alcohol ads

A charity has called for a complete ban on alcohol advertising at music and sports events to protect children and young people from what it describes as "excessive" exposure.

Alcohol Concern claims the current regulatory system is failing young people, citing high levels of alcohol brand recognition and "numerous" examples of inappropriate advertising.

It is recommending new rules that restrict adverts to referring only to the characteristics of the product, such as strength, origin, composition and means of production, and a ban on alcohol advertising in the trailers of films shown in cinemas with less than an 18 certificate.

The charity said the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) should work in a "more proactive way" rather than "depending on complaints from the public" before investigating breaches of the advertising code, and should be able to levy "meaningful" sanctions such as fines for serious non-compliance.

And it says regulation should be statutory and independent of the alcohol and advertising industries and has called for a review of the way digital and online content is regulated.

It suggests the introduction of a model similar to France's Loi Evin, a law passed in 1991 which has banned alcohol brands from sponsoring cultural or sports events, alcohol advertising targeted at young people and alcohol advertisements screened on TV or in cinemas.

Alcohol Concern's report is based on findings by its Youth Alcohol Advertising Council (YAAC), a group of young people from across England and Wales who review alcohol advertising and make complaints to the ASA when they believe content is irresponsible.

Three of their 13 complaints have been upheld. Last month, regulator Ofcom published research that found children saw an average of 3.2 alcohol adverts per week in 2011 compared with 2.7 in 2007.

It asked the UK's advertising regulators to review 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."


From Belfast Telegraph