Stop recruiting North East children as the next generation of drinkersPosted 14/11/11
Alcohol advertising is risking the lives and futures of children across the North East by encouraging them to drink early and more, according to a campaign launched today (Monday, Nov 14).
Through its ‘See What Sam Sees’ campaign, Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, is inviting North Easterners to take a child\'s eye view and witness the way the alcohol industry is bombarding young people with ads which make drinkers appear popular, successful and attractive. In the region 55% of people already agree that alcohol targets under 18s.
Children and young people across the region are certainly being exposed. During this year's Rugby World Cup, which saw games broadcast during breakfast, children and young people in the North East were subjected to over 100 alcohol adverts. Just last week - youngsters given permission to view the UEFA Champion\'s League games saw alcohol ads in virtually every advertisement break.
The campaign is then asking people to consider the damage that drinking too much, too young is doing across our region. In the North East we have:
- The highest rate of alcohol specific hospital admissions for under 18s in England.
- The highest rate of 11-15 year olds who admit to drinking alcohol
- More than half of 15-year-olds who have drunk alcohol have experienced negative consequences including smoking, taking drugs and unprotected sex.
Colin Shevills, Director of Balance said: "Our children are brought up in a world where drinking at an early age and consuming large quantities is viewed as 'normal' or 'acceptable' and alcohol advertising plays a central role in this. We need to stop the alcohol industry from recruiting its next generation of drinkers and exposing young people to £800m worth of marketing a year."
Central to Balance\'s campaign is a film which follows Sam, a young boy, taking photographs of alcohol images during a normal day in his life. The photographs he has taken then flood the screen.
The film cannot be viewed on TV after regulators said it contravened the Communications Act 2003 - due to the fact that Balance hoped to use the ad to encourage visitors to its website to sign a petition. The petition calls on Government to introduce more meaningful regulations to stop the alcohol industry reaching children and young people through advertising.
Colin said: "We don\'t object to the ruling in principle. However, it seems unfair that an advert which seeks to inform people and protect public health and the lives of our children is deemed unfit for broadcast. Meanwhile the alcohol industry routinely flaunts the rules by making drinkers appear popular and attractive - something which it is not supposed to be able to do.
“From our latest perception survey we also know that 68% of people in the North East agree that there should be a ban on alcohol advertising before 9pm.
Balance is urging North Easterners to visit www.balancenortheast.co.uk and sign its petition which calls out for regulations to:
- Prevent alcohol ads from targeting children and young people
- Prevent alcohol ads from being shown on TV and in the cinema for under 18 certificate films
- Prevent alcohol ads from being shown through social networking sites
- Prevent alcohol sponsorship of sporting and youth events.
Colin added: "A parent\'s first instinct is to protect their child. When we talk to parents we know they feel powerless in the face of an industry which has so much control. We\'re saying that parents can take the power back. Parents can use their voices to call on Government for help to protect our children."
Because North Easterners aren\'t able to view the ad on TV - Balance is taking the ad on the road and will be visiting the following locations:
- The Metro Centre w/c14 November
- The Bridges, Sunderland w/c 21 November
- Middleton Grange, Hartlepool w/c 21 November
- Cornmill Exchange, Darlington w/c 28 November
People can also see the film at the following locations:
- Morpeth 28 November
- South Shields 29 November
- Durham 30 November
- Middlesbrough 1 December
As part of the campaign Balance has also been working with local schools to find out how alcohol advertising is affecting young people in the North East. The pupils aged from 14-17 were asked to emulate ‘Sam’ and take pictures of any alcohol advertisements they saw in their everyday lives. They were also asked how it made them feel.
Pupils said they saw alcohol advertising ‘on the television, Youtube, Facebook, supermarkets, pubs’ and ‘magazines, bus stops, billboards, the internet’. They also said it made them feel that ‘alcohol is fun and you can’t have a good time if you don’t have a drink’. You can view the video here.
Colin added: “Sadly we live in a society where alcohol is too heavily promoted, too available and too affordable. It has become a dangerous part of our culture and it is obvious that the next generation is already being influenced by alcohol advertising at an early age. We need to protect our children and I hope people across the region will support our campaign.”