Alcohol advertising exposure linked to increased drinking

By June Shannon Policy News   |   10th Mar 2020

Irish adults report frequent awareness of alcohol marketing which is linked to increased consumption

The vast majority of adults surveyed reported to have seen at least one piece of alcohol marketing and at least half reported seeing three or more ads for alcohol in the past month before new legislation restricting alcohol advertising was introduced in Ireland last year, according to a new study.

The results of the survey which also stated that increased exposure to alcohol marketing was linked to increased consumption, were submitted as a poster presentation at the 6th Global Alcohol Policy Conference which is currently taking place in Dublin.

The survey of more than 1,000 adults was carried out by researchers at the Institute for Social Marketing at the University of Stirling in the UK, set to examine the reasons behind Ireland’s decision to lead the way in introducing restrictions on alcohol marketing.

In November 2019 changes in the Public Health (Alcohol ) Act came into force in Ireland which included, a ban on alcohol ads on public transport and around schools and playgrounds. Alcohol advertising is also not permitted on children’s clothing and in cinemas where the film is aimed at under 18s.

Awareness of alcohol marketing was associated with increased likelihood of weekly drinking, monthly heavy episodic drinking and higher-risk drinking.

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According to the survey which was carried out before the new legislation was implemented, most adults or 94 per cent “reported seeing at least one form of alcohol marketing in the past month, with television, billboards, celebrity endorsement, price offers, and sponsorship the activities most frequently reported.

At least half of adults reported seeing three or more instances of alcohol marketing per day in the past month, with monthly awareness higher among males and younger age groups.”

The study also revealed that “awareness of alcohol marketing was associated with increased likelihood of weekly drinking, monthly heavy episodic drinking (HED), and higher-risk drinking.”

According to the researchers at the University of Sterling, “Ireland are justified in introducing placement restrictions on alcohol marketing as adults report frequent awareness and this is associated with increased consumption, including HED and higher-risk drinking. The longer-term effects of the legislation should be robustly evaluated to test a corresponding impact on consumption.”

The UK study on the impact of alcohol marketing controls was one of a number of research studies presented at the Global Alcohol Policy Conference to examine alcohol advertising.

Five broadcasts contained alcohol marketing references, ranging from approximately once every 15 seconds to once every 97 seconds

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Another study from the University of Stirling in Scotland, Alcohol Focus Scotland and the Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems in Scotland, looked at how frequently alcohol marketing references appeared in in seven televised professional football and rugby matches in Scotland.

The results from this study revealed that five broadcasts contained alcohol marketing references, ranging from approximately once every 15 seconds in a live rugby match to once every 97 seconds in a live Premier League match.

In November 2018 The Irish Heart Foundation welcomed the implementation of the Public Health Alcohol Bill however, it warned that the staggered approach its implementation, meant that it will have taken up to six years since the Bill was first commenced in 2015, for some of the measures to take effect.

Commenting Mark Murphy, Irish Heart Foundation Advocacy Officer said, ‘’These studies set out at the Global Alcohol Policy Conference this week highlight just how prevalent and pervasive alcohol marketing is in our society. The constant bombardment of alcohol advertising has effectively normalised the over-consumption of alcohol in Ireland and embedded it into our society.

“The passing of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act in 2018 was the first step in reducing the incessant levels of alcohol marketing but the phased implementation of the act has curtailed its progress and efficacy. The prevalence of alcohol marketing is still insidious in our society- from sporting events to glamorising the visits of foreign dignitaries. This cannot continue if we want to eliminate alcohol harms. The Public Health (alcohol) Act will itself not be enough and we shouldn’t be afraid to go further’’

" The constant bombardment of alcohol advertising has effectively normalised the over - consumption of alcohol in Ireland and embedded it into our society,"

Mark Murphy, Advocacy Officer , Irish Heart Foundation

Ireland has one of the highest rates of alcohol consumption in the EU and excessive alcohol consumption has been shown to badly affect heart health. Drinking too much alcohol can increase the heart rate and blood pressure while its calorie content also contributes to weight gain.

Alcohol also increases the chance of developing cardiac arrhythmias (atrial fibrillation). This is in addition to all the other deleterious effects alcohol has on our health including an increased risk of cancer.

High blood pressure a major cause of heart attack or stroke is one of the most common alcohol-related health problems.

The 6th Global Alcohol Policy Conference takes place in Dublin Castle from Monday the 9th to Wednesday 11th of March 2020. This is the first time that the conference has been held in Ireland.

For more information please visit www.askaboutalcohol.ie or visit our page on your heart health and alcohol.

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Related Topics

alcohol alcohol harm alcohol marketing Public Health Alcohol Bill

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