EUCAM - European Centre for Monitoring Alcohol Marketing

EU ban on alcohol advertising needed to protect children

1 April 2009

EU ban on alcohol advertising needed to protect children Source: Royal College of Physicians

A cross border initiative to ban alcohol advertising that appeals to children and adolescents is needed to protect young people from the harmful effects of alcohol, according to leading public health doctor, Peter Anderson, writing in this month’s Clinical Medicine, the journal of the Royal College of Physicians.

Evidence from 13 studies of more than 38,000 young people found that alcohol advertising increases drinking by young people. Dr Anderson points to marketing as a significant influence in beginning to drink alcohol and encouraging heavier drinking behaviour in existing young drinkers. He argues that as promotional materials commonly cross country borders through sport and popular culture, a ban on alcohol advertising that appeals to children and adolescents should be EU wide.

To date the UK is the only country in the EU that does not have ban on one or more types of alcohol marketing, and many other countries have strict restrictions. A 2006 survey found that 76% of people in the EU would approve of banning alcohol adverts that target young people.

Dr Anderson commented:
“Drinking at a young age can have a detrimental effect on brain development and lead to future dependence on alcohol. It is vital that we do more to protect children and adolescents who are much more vulnerable to the harmful effects of alcohol than adults. Banning advertising that appeals to young people would lessen the attraction of drinking for children and adolescents, and an EU wide ban could prevent 5% of all alcohol-related ill-health.”

Professor Ian Gilmore, President of the Royal College of Physicians and Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance said:
“It is clear that we must urgently address the health and other harms caused by youth drinking and alcohol misuse. ‘De-normalising’ our perception of alcohol by restricting advertising that appeals especially to young people must be one measure in a combined effort to reduce rates of chronic illness and acute injuries stemming from alcohol misuse.”

Notes to Editors
1. Dr Anderson is a consultant in Public Health in Girona, Spain
2. ‘Is it time to ban alcohol advertising’ is published in this month’s edition of Clinical Medicine journal.
3. For further information and comment please contact Zoë Horwich, Communications Officer at the Royal College on Physicians on 020 7935 1174 x354 or

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