- Britain's ad industry has gone on the counter-attack over an official report appearing to link alcopop promotion to drug taking by youngsters.
Advertising Association executives are angry at the "spin" put on the report's findings and fear that national press coverage of the story will reinforce old prejudices against the industry.
The row has erupted over the publication of a report by the Home Office's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which provoked headlines suggesting that alcopop ads were "luring youngsters to drugs".
Now the AA is to tell the Home Office minister George Howarth, that there is not a shred of evidence to back such a claim and will point out that the report makes no connection between advertising and the use of illicit drugs.
Not only is alcohol one of the most strictly regulated sectors of the ad industry, almost every alcohol ad complies with the rules and has little impact on consumption rates, according to an AA statement.
It also points to figures published by the Advertising Standards Authority in June 1996 showing that, of 359 alcohol ads, only 12 were for alcopops. Ten of those appeared in trade publications and none were found to break regulations.
The AA statement goes on: "Even if one was to accept the simplistic analysis that drinking leads to drug misuse -- about as convincing as arguing that smoking leads to under age sex, although the statistics are probably the same -- the criticism by association laid at the door of advertising is unproven and counter-productive."