Experts find current limits on alcohol marketing do not protect youth

New report finds current controls on alcohol advertising to youth ineffective at preventing drinking. Photo by stevepb/PixaBay

STORRS, Conn., Jan. 10 (UPI) — A series of reports by researchers from around the world have found that current controls on alcohol marketing are ineffective in preventing youth exposure to alcohol and subsequent drinking.

Alcohol is the leading cause of death and disability for men aged 15 to 24 in almost every region of the world, and for women aged 15 to 24 in wealthy countries and the Americas.

Experts are calling on governments to strengthen rules and regulations governing alcohol marketing with more effective independent regulations. The call comes after a series of reports were published in a supplement to the scientific journal Addiction, which showed that alcohol marketing has a direct impact on children.

The supplement in Addiction is made up of 14 papers from research from around the world.

“Governments are responsible for the health of their citizens,” Professor Thomas Babor of the University of Connecticut and lead author, said in a press release. “No other legal product with such potential for harm is as widely promoted and advertised in the world as alcohol. These papers provide a wealth of information to support governments in their efforts to protect children and other vulnerable populations from exposure to alcohol marketing.”

The researchers found exposure to alcohol marketing is associated with youth alcohol consumption, and an analysis of alcohol promotion during the 2014 FIFA World Cup showed alcohol marketing practices breached industry voluntary codes of practice. The report also found that the self-regulatory codes of the alcohol industry do not protect children from exposure to alcohol promotions, especially via social media.

Guidelines for more effective alcohol marketing regulations include: a comprehensive ban on alcohol advertising, promotion and sponsorship; statutory regulations that are enforced by an appropriate public health agency, not by the alcohol industry; regulations that are independent of the alcohol industry; a global agreement to move towards a comprehensive ban on alcohol advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and collaboration with other efforts to restrict marketing of other potentially harmful products like sugary beverages and tobacco.

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