MPs call for tighter regulation of alcohol advertising
MPs have announced that tighter restrictions are needed on the advertising of alcohol following a report on the government’s alcohol strategy.
MPs are looking at tough limits on television and radio adverts for alcohol, which would contain only factual information and would be aired during television shows or at films aimed solely at adults. They are also considering banning alcohol companies from sponsoring major sporting and cultural public events.
The Commons Health Select Committee said in their report: “Those involved in advertising alcoholic products should accept that their advertisements contain positive messages about their products and that these messages are supported by considerable economic power.”
Around 6,500 deaths are caused directly by alcohol each year, and alcohol drinkers cost the NHS over £3 billion in the same time.
The committee has criticised some areas of the government’s strategy, however, saying that it focuses too much on the impact that binge drinking has on society rather than its wider health implications. The committee would only support the government’s plan to set a minimum price per unit of alcohol if the level set is well researched, and disagrees with the government’s plan to prevent multi-packs of alcohol being sold.
The report has produced many criticisms from those who are likely to be economically affected by the decisions. Mike Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: “We regret the Committee’s readiness to support minimum unit pricing when, by its own admission, there is a lack of evidence about the specific effects of different price levels.”
Chairman of the committee, Conservative MP Stephen Dorrell, did accept that it was a difficult and divisive issue. He explained: “Striking the right balance on alcohol consumption is not straightforward. Most people enjoy alcohol without evidence of harm, yet…alcohol affects people in different ways. The companies which sell it have an obligation to do so in a way which respects the rights and interests of fellow citizens.”