It was reported over the weekend that the Alcohol Health Alliance, a body comprising more than thirty medical groups and charities, had called for a total ban on TV alcohol advertising and sports sponsorship.
Sir Ian Gilmore, chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA), said extreme measures were required to "reset society's norms" and protect children from marketing messages which glamorise drinking and fuel excess consumption...Well, according to the 2011 BBPA Statistical Handbook, in 2010 we consumed an average of 10.2 litres of alcohol per head, compared with 9.8 litres in 1990 (4% less) and 9.4 litres in 1980 (8% less), so things aren’t really all that different.
In terms of consumption, we need to change the norms, to get back to where we were 20 or 30 years ago.
In fact, the AHA are already getting what they want, as average consumption has been steadily falling since 2004. It has been recently reported that alcohol consumption has continued its steady decline, so the latest figures will be even lower. And I seem to remember the late 80s being a time of media frenzy over “lager louts”.
It has always seemed to me that alcohol advertising is unlikely to have much effect on overall consumption levels anyway. People take up drinking through social influences, not through advertising. All advertising really does is to make them more likely to consume premium products rather than bog-standard generic ones. If anything, the main role of advertising restrictions is to act as a symbol of official disapproval of drinking rather than to reduce consumption.
Of course none of this has been inspired to any degree whatsoever by existing curbs on tobacco advertising. Move along now, folks, no slippery slope to see here.
The AHA also called for a minimum price of 50 pence a unit, rather than the government’s proposed 40p, which it says “would mean 97,000 fewer hospital admissions a year within 10 years”. No surprise there, then. And when 50p doesn’t “work”, no doubt they’ll call for it to be 60p. And then 70p and so on...
And, yet again, a news story about alcohol “problems” is accompanied by a picture of a pint of beer.