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Alcohol advertising needs to be restricted to protect young people

Profits from alcohol advertising should take a back seat to the health of youth

The National Youth Council of Ireland are launching a unique report tomorrow (Tuesday June 9th) at 12pm entitled “Get ‘em Young – Mapping young people’s exposure to alcohol marketing in Ireland.” The report will be launched in Buswells Hotel by Senator Joe O’Toole and will show the prevalence of alcohol marketing across the country and its impact on young people.

“This report is the first of its kind in Ireland as it involves young people recording their experience of alcohol advertising and marketing in their own surroundings. The startling thing about this research is that it shows the level to which young people are subjected to alcohol products from an array of media channels in Ireland and demonstrates that current policies are not working to protect them from pervasive advertising and marketing of alcohol,” stated James Doorley, Assistant Director at the National Youth Council of Ireland.

There is a growing body of international evidence which demonstrates that alcohol advertising and marketing encourages young people to begin drinking at an earlier age, to drink more frequently and more heavily. Based on this report and the international evidence we want the Government to take effective action to curb alcohol advertising which includes:

  • Replacing the existing “voluntary” advertising codes which were drawn up by the drinks industry and which are weak and ineffective. It is clear now that these “self regulatory voluntary codes” are failing and therefore we want the introduction of legislation to provide a statutory basis to protect young people under 18.
  • The development of any new statutory code should be done in consultation with young people’s/children’s’ organisations and others with no vested interest apart from that of the health and well being of children and young people.
  • The formation of an independent panel to monitor any new code which consists of professionals with no vested commercial interests in its implementation and experience in youth issues and public health.
  • The new legislation should include significant penalties such as a financial penalty or suspension of the right to advertise a product for a period so that there is an effective deterrent in place. There is no such penalty currently under the voluntary codes so if a breach is upheld the drinks company/advertiser is just asked to remove the offending promotion.
  • The implementation of a watershed should be set down in legislation so that no alcoholic products can be advertised on TV before 9pm. The current voluntary codes only restrict alcohol advertising between 6am and 10am, where almost no alcohol adverts would currently be broadcast in any event.

The issues with alcohol in this country cannot be blamed on young people. Irish society has a problem with alcohol and our Government must respond with policies that work. All the evidence suggests that we require a range of policy measures to deal effectively with this issue. These include restricting availability, addressing costs, informing and mobilising young people and their communities along with controlling the advertising and marketing of alcohol to young people.”

“This study and the rate of alcohol misuse and alcohol related harm among young people demonstrates that a key part of that approach, to protect young people from alcohol marketing and advertising is failing. Therefore we are calling on the Government to engage with us and other stakeholders on a new approach which puts the future health and well being of young people ahead of the profits of the drinks and advertising industries” concluded Mr. Doorley.