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British Medical Association Calls for Alcohol Ad Ban

posted 12:22 AM EST, Wed September 09, 2009
British Medical Association Calls for Alcohol Ad Ban © Photo Credit: Fauxto Digit

Seeking a way to reduce some of the nation’s huge problems with excessive alcohol consumption, the British Medical Association has released a report suggesting a total ban on alcohol marketing.

The British Medical Association has called for a total ban on alcohol advertising – a drastic measure they say is necessary to reign in a national problem of excessive drinking.

Britain has struggled with an alarming increase in overall alcohol consumption and binge drinking behaviors. The alcohol related death rate within the country doubled between 1991 and 2005 and Britons are now the 10th hardest drinking citizens in the world.

The medical association reports that the British alcohol industry invests more than 1.3 billion dollars annually on alcohol marketing, to very successful results. Dr. Vivienne Nathanson, the group’s head of ethics and science, commented on the problem, saying, "Our society is awash with pro-alcohol messaging and marketing. We need to look beyond young people and at society as a whole."

Alcohol Industry marketer, Jeremy Beadles, of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, acknowledged the nation’s alcohol problems but disagreed with the need for an advertising ban, saying, “We believe culture change is more likely to be achieved through long-term education and tough enforcement."

Despite pressure from the medical group, alcohol industry marketers won’t likely face additional restrictions. A governmental statement released as a response to the medical group report countered that legislation was not always the best response to a problem and that British alcohol advertising regulations were already among the world’s most stringent.

In a separate and unrelated move to reduce alcohol consumption, Britain’s Chief Medical Officer, Liam Donaldson, will reportedly recommend on Monday that government hike the price of low-cost alcohol, as a way to reduce endemic binge drinking in the country. Donaldson would like to see the cost of the cheapest drink almost double, to a minimum of 50 pence per unit.

Although his suggestions do not bind the government to action, a government spokesperson said, "We have not ruled out taking action on very cheap alcohol -- it's clearly linked to people drinking more and the subsequent harm to their health.”

Read the full BMA report online: Under the Influence – The Damaging Effect of Alcohol Marketing on Young People

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