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Call for all alcohol advertising to be banned from Southampton General Hospital's Dr Nick Sheron
A SOUTHAMPTON liver expert is today calling for all alcohol advertising to be banned to protect the health of British children.
Nick Sheron, from Southampton General Hospital, believes that urgent changes to the country’s “flawed” regulatory system are vital to ensure youngsters are not exposed to the dangers of booze.
His calls come on the day a new blueprint for action is launched to get tougher on the alcohol industry and tackle the harm caused by excess boozing in the country.
More than 70 health organisations have backed the new independent alcohol strategy calling on the Government to adopt a series of no-nonsense recommendations to curb the nation’s drink problem – which has seen alcohol-related deaths double in the UK over the past 18 years.
These include getting ministers to prioritise Minimum Unit Pricing, reduce the legal drink-drive limit and restrict the sale of alcohol in shops to specific times of the day.
It also calls for all alcohol advertising and sponsorship to be prohibited, a ban backed by Dr Sheron, who believes alcohol marketing increases the likelihood that young people will start drinking.
Along with his colleague Professor Gerard Hastings from the University of Stirling, he argues children need much stronger protection from exposure to alcohol, especially with the popularity of social media.
Dr Sheron said: “Our children need protection from alcohol marketing.
Voluntary codes and partial measures have obviously failed and digital media is set to multiply the resulting harm.
“We have to assume that drink advertisers are not deliberately aiming their campaigns at children, but internal documents do show that they are enthusiastically targeting the profitable group of young people aged between the minimum legal drinking age and 21.
The danger is that “such neatly targeted campaigns will spill over into younger groups” and that digital media is resulting in marketing that is “more powerful and less controllable”.
His views are supported by the Health First report, developed by experts as the battle against booze is stepped up.
There was unanimous agreement that a 50p minimum price per unit of alcohol sold should be a priority and to give licensing authorities more power to tackle alcohol problems in their area by controlling the availability of drink.
Sir Ian Gilmore, chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said: “Governments across the UK have begun to take action to reduce the harm that alcohol can cause. This action is very welcome but needs to go further. The report provides a blueprint for action, now and in the future.”