Booze news scuppers ad ban ruse

If a week’s a long time in politics, it’s even longer in the world of alcohol advertising policy.  Last Friday, Director of the Institute of Alcohol Studies,Katherine Brown, hit the headlines claiming “strong evidence” linking alcohol advertising to youth drinking – as she pointed out that the  2016 Euros may have involved some alcohol sponsorship.

We pointed to the evidence, which shows underage and binge drinking rising under French alcohol advertising laws, yet in the UK, where tough self-regulation and education are preferred, the figures are at an all-time low.  Cue this week’s ONS datawith the proportion of 16-24 years olds who drink at least once a week dropping from 65 per cent to 57 per cent, and just 12 per cent now exceeding 12 units once a week (half the rate in 2005).   All in all, the poll of nearly 8,000 Britons found just under 60% had had a drink in the past week – the lowest rate since the survey began in 2005.

Problem solved? Not quite.  Over at the Beeb, Dr Tony Rao of the Royal College of Psychiatrists pointed a finger at older drinkers and issued a “wake-up call” for the drinking habits of baby boomers.  “Alcohol abuse is not a young person problem,” he says.  What a difference a week makes.

Seconds out

Not satisfied by the big fight last weekend?  Fear not. Wednesday signalled the beginning of another British title battle as Theresa May travelled to Buckingham Palace to mark the dissolution of Parliament and the official start of the election campaign.

All eyes in Lobbyland now turn to manifesto announcements, with the Conservatives due out next Monday and Labour’s published on the 15th.  The Lib Dems, we hear, are expected to keep largely to their manifesto commitment in 2015.

Any swinging right hooks for advertising to look out for?  In previous Conservative and Labour manifestos, the creative industries have been highlighted as key to a strong and stable British economy – and there’s no sign this view has changed dramatically. However, with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport getting stuck into gambling advertising in recent months and Labour’s Health team gunning for the PM’s lack of action on obesity, there’s still plenty to look out for.

Honey, I junked the kids

CAP’s new rules on HFFS advertising are just around the corner – no ads for unhealthy foods targeted in kids’ media, anywhere – but having tasted sweet success with the Sugar Tax, the appetite for ads bans amongst campaigners is as strong as ever.

Jamie Oliver’s already on the case.  His Food Revolution Day on 19th May  sports the hashtag #adenough – with telly ads certain to get a roasting, while over on the Labour front-bench, Jon Ashworth, Shadow Health Secretary, believes the advertising industry has ‘serious questions to answer’.  “I, like every parent, know that as soon as adverts for those sorts of things come on, my five-year-old is hassling me…” he says.  Well not quite every parent – two-thirds of the 1,000 we asked last year said the ads are either ignored by their children or have no impact on overall diet.

Elsewhere, ‘Operation Eagle Eye’ is underway. Nope, it’s not the new James Bond, it’s a Children’s Food Campaign to call-out brands that use ‘loopholes’ to carry on advertising to kids.  Cancer Research UK’s campaign, we assume, will be safe – they’re all over the Tube at Westminster asking MPs to fill in the gaps for “the biggest cause of cancer after smoke.”

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