UK: Alcohol advertising under pressure from MPs
Date: 20 Jul 2012
The Parliamentary health select committee has said that drinks companies run the risk of "paying only lip service" to the public health needs of reducing the impact of alcohol abuse. It flagged the possibility that new curbs on advertising could be in the pipeline, along with a ban on alcohol-related sports sponsorship.
A number of drinks companies have addressed the impact of product abuse in their CR reporting in recent years, with some such as Diageo running ads designed to address binge drinking. A number of companies also engaged in the government's recent "responsibility deal" where firms, in return for avoiding new regulation, agreed to voluntarily tackle alcohol misuse.
Whilst welcoming the companies' engagement with the issue, the MPs said that engagement alone did not win credit, whilst the industry continued to fuel demand with powerful advertising wherever it could.
The committee chairman Stephen Dorrell MP said that the companies "should be interested in the fact that six and a half thousand deaths a year are related to alcohol consumption, and they should be doing something to bring those deaths down."
The industry-funded group focused on alcohol harm issues, the Portman Group, said it was disappointed that the committee had not given weight to the industry commitment to introduce lower strength wines and beers over the next three years.
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