The anti-alcohol lobby have long held that advertising encourages alcohol abuse. Just how they arrived at this opinion remains anybody’s guess.
The advertising industry – another business sector that’s about to be decimated by ill-thought-out legislation – has published a statement on the downstream effects of the Alcohol Bill which again gives pause for thought.
The Association of Advertisers in Ireland points to the ineffectiveness of legislative restrictions elsewhere in curbing alcohol abuse such as the 1991 Loi Evin advertising restrictions in France. Twenty years later, the public & state-funded study on underage alcohol consumption ESPAD indicated that “67% of the French population aged 15 years old consumed alcohol in the past 30 days prior to the study, which places France 10% above the EU average (57%)” and “44% binge drunk in the past 30 days prior to the study, which places France 5% above the EU average (39%)” and “The use of any alcoholic beverage during the past 12 months has increased from about 70% in 1999 to about 80% in 2011”.
Furthermore, “The Proportion which reported having had five or more drinks on one occasion during the past 30 days increased from about 35% in 1999 to about 45% in 2011”.
Today “Per capita consumption is higher in France (13.25 litres) than in the UK (11.54 litres) – there is no ban on advertising in the UK,” points out the AAI, arguing that provisions contained in our own Alcohol Bill similarly “lack focus and an evidence base for their effectiveness”.
These measures will have little influence on reducing harmful consumption but will have a substantive, negative impact on the domestic broadcast, Out of Home and Print media industries.
“We repeatedly asked the Government to address this lack of evidence given the severity of the proposed restrictions. Nobody responded.”
Ah. How familiar.
Absolutely no advertising is allowed in Norway where alcohol consumption is increasing.
“In Italy, advertising is permitted and self-regulation operates – consumption is decreasing,” points out the AAI.
And despite the existence of Central Copy Clearance Ireland, an organisation unique in Europe, the AAI cites our new watershed restrictions for a €7 million advertising spend being simply reallocated to UK broadcasters with reach here.
“The Loi Evin has not been proven to be effective in France. There is absolutely little or no evidence-based data to suggest that these advertising restrictions will successfully address the alcohol misuse issue in Ireland.
“And it’s important to highlight that Digital Media is not included in this bill.”
Whilst the Government might think that they are “ticking the appropriate boxes”, the bill simply lacks common sense, it states.
In the end, all the Nanny-State diktats issued in the name of prevention seem nothing more than optimistic assumptions.
The real cause of Ireland’s alcohol problems are no different from those of most Northern European countries.
The villain in this passion play is our ingrained drinking culture – and until all parties set about tackling this culture (in all northern European countries) our problems with alcohol abuse will remain an ever-present feature of our daily lives and deaths.