Industry bodies hit out at call for alcohol ad ban

LONDON - The IPA, ISBA and the Advertising Association have all rejected today's call for a ban on alcohol advertising and sponsorship, criticising the body behind the call as ill-informed.

The industry bodies hit out at the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs for failing to acknowledge alcohol advertisers' recent cooperation with government in its report, which attracted front page coverage in the national press today.

The council is known for informing government policy on illegal drugs such as cocaine, but has ventured a call for a crackdown on alcohol and tobacco advertising and sales after becoming concerned about the extent of abuse of these legal substances among young people.

It wants a ban on TV and cinema advertising of alcohol to under-18s and a stop to drinks brands sponsoring sporting and music events, as part of a range of measures.

Andrew Brown, Advertising Association's director-general, called the recommendations "draconian" and criticised the report's "ignorance" about changes over the past four years in alcohol marketing.

"The ad industry has been working very closely with government over the past four years, resulting in the introduction of new advertising codes in October last year. The nature of alcohol advertising has changed dramatically as a consequence," he said.

"It seems to me that this group has paid no attention to changes that have already been put in place [and] I think the government would be dissatisfied with that level of ignorance."

All three bodies said an advertising ban would fail to make any difference to the problem of underage drinking.

Marina Palomba, legal director for the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, said: "The IPA entirely rejects the disproportionate call for a ban of advertising of alcohol products and rejects the notion this will have any positive impact on binge drinking.

"The new stricter alcohol advertising codes introduced in October 2005 represent some of the toughest regulations in the world. Alcohol ads are not allowed to be targeted to or appeal to young people and indeed one only has to look at the alcohol commercials over the past year to see that they do not."

Ian Twinn, director of public affairs for the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers, said: "I was pleased to see in the FT today that ministers appear to have ruled out a ban on sponsorship.

"They say that these sponsorships of sport do some good and there would be a lack of funding if they were withdrawn. We would like to see ministers rule out a ban on TV ads."

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