Another threat to introduce US/France style health warnings on booze labelling and tighter ad controls, and this time it’s from the UK government.
Who: UK Government, ISBA et al
When: December 2001
The recently published annual report of the UK Government’s Chief Medical Officer showed that deaths amongst under 44s from chronic liver disease in 2000 were ten times the rate for that age group 30 years ago. CMO Liam Donaldson linked these depressing statistics to a sharp rise in drink-related hospital admissions and deaths due to increased alcohol consumption among teenagers and binge drinking by young adults. He said the government would like to introduce US-style health warnings on alcohol ads and to work with the industry to “change the nature of advertising to emphasise healthier drinking patterns” and encourage brand owners away from targeting young and female drinkers.
Why this matters:
This initiative is only the latest in a recent, growing chorus of European opinion in favour of controls over alcohol advertising. The Incorporated Society of British Advertisers swiftly denounced the move and suggested the government deal with the problem by funding its own public information campaign. Interestingly, the drinks industry-funded Portman watchdog group took a rather different position, saying the government was right to be concerned about the problem, particularly amongst younger drinkers. Would health warnings make any difference, or perhaps even be counterproductive in making drinks more attractive as a dare? It would be interesting to see US “before and after” statistics to see what effect, if any, the introduction of health warnings has had stateside on drink-related illness and death figures. Over here, the question is whether the UK government is prepared to make its own moves ahead of any EU initiative in the same direction.