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alcohol health alliance uk

Young people bombarded by alcohol ads

Posted 27/09/13

Children and young people are being bombarded by alcohol ads whilst watching family blockbuster films in cinemas across the region, a new study has shown.

Balance, the North East Alcohol office, carried out the study in cinemas across the North East and found that during five of the top blockbusters shown throughout the summer, one in four advertisements were for alcohol. This is despite 78% of people in the North East agreeing that cinema alcohol advertising should only be shown if film has an 18 certificate.

The research looked at five popular family films, After Earth (12A), Now You See Me (12A), The Internship (12A) World War Z (15) and Pacific Rim (12A) – and alcohol ads appeared before each film in cinemas located across the North East.

Balance is now calling for tighter regulations to protect children and young people from being bombarded by alcohol promotion, which research has shown encourages them to drink earlier and to drink more.

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “This is yet another example if the alcohol industry targeting the next generation of drinkers using ads which make drinkers appear popular, successful and attractive. Families going to visit the cinema should not be bombarded with alcohol advertising, which we already know encourages young people to drink from a younger age and in greater quantities. More than half of people in the North East already agree that alcohol advertising targets under 18s – this has to stop.

“Here in the North East we continue to see the impact that alcohol has on our children and young people. We have the highest rate of alcohol specific hospital admissions for under 18s, the highest rate of under 18s in alcohol treatment services and the highest proportion of school pupils who have tried drinking.

“The continued promotion of alcohol, alongside pocket money prices and increased availability is sending the message to our children that alcohol should be central to every part of our lives. It’s damaging our children and their futures.”

Matrix young people’s service based in the North East also took a group to visit the local cinema to watch a screening of World War Z (15). Prior to the film there were 14 ads, three of which were for alcohol brands – San Miguel, Strongbow and Stella Artois Cidre. These were shown alongside ads for milk, cereal, soft drinks and fast food chains.

Melanie Soutar, Manager of Matrix, said: “Although we acknowledge the North East has excessive alcohol consumption, the worry is that the perception, particularly to young people, is that everyone drinks in the North East as a social and cultural norm. However, this is not always the case and we need young people to understand that not everyone drinks to excess and there are other things to do.

“The main thing that our young people said about the cinema advertising was that they sold a lifestyle to them and implied that if you drink alcohol you will automatically get things such as money, cars and partners.

“The majority of the young people we took to the cinema believe that there is too much alcohol advertising in films. Alcohol advertising reinforces messages that it is either cool, or it makes you more attractive or it’s something that everyone does to have a good time. This can make alcohol look appealing to young people particularly adolescents where acceptance in peer groups and gained confidence is important to them.

“We must recognise that not all young people are drinking, however there is a proportion who are drinking to excess which remains a concern and alcohol advertising and normalisation in broader terms, is a contributing factor.”