Government blocks move for alcohol ad ban

The Government has blocked demands from doctors and health pressure groups for a crackdown on alcohol ads.

Andrew Lansley: Health Secretary
Andrew Lansley: Health Secretary

The Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, was accused of "caving in" to the drinks industry after he had vetoed proposals to curb ads during negotiations on a new "responsibility deal" to encourage sensible drinking.

Alcohol Concern tabled plans for a "tax" on marketing budgets to fund alcohol treatment services; to restrict cinema ads to "18" certificate films; to ban marketing based on price; for health and alcohol unit messages to be included in all ads, and for independent monitoring of whether under-18s are exposed to alcohol ads.

The only proposal to survive was a commitment by the drinks industry to ban posters within 100 metres of schools.

Although the Advertising Association and ISBA backed the deal, six groups - including Alcohol Concern, the British Medical Association and Royal College of Physicians - refused to sign the agreement because of the Department of Health's stance.

Don Shenker, Alcohol Concern's chief executive, said: "We'll continue to call for laws to compel drinks companies and retailers to sell alcohol responsibly, with mandatory labelling, health warnings and reduced marketing."

Lansley added: "We know regulation is costly, can take years and is often only determined at a European Union-wide level. That's why we have to introduce new ways of achieving better results."