Why the alcohol advertising ban just won’t wash

Carling CupHeadline writers were overjoyed again this week, as the BMA proposed a blanket ban on alcohol advertising in an effort to cut drinking among the ‘youth of today’ (copyright!).

I think most people would agree that more and more people are drinking to excess and it’s having an impact on society, but the notion that a complete ban would have an impact is surely naive in the extreme.

The BBC chose to highlight the impact this would have by showing footage of sports events – many of which are traditionally sponsored by drinks companies – and how this might work. Cue blacked-out hoardings next to football pitches, football shirts with covered-up logos and sponsored events with no name.

I know this is just one element, but do teenagers seriously watch Arsenal playing Manchester United in the Carling Cup and think to themselves – ooh, I could just go a can of the cold stuff right now?!

And who ever even looks at the advertising boards that line football pitches – unless the action is seriously dire, I tend to concentrate on the players and where the ball is.

Many people will remember the ban on ‘characters’ advertising lager in the 80s which saw the ‘cuddly’ Hofmeister bear bid a sad goodbye to our TV screens. Now, I know Hofmeister isn’t exactly the lager on everyone lips, so to speak, but at the time we all sat around and laughed at the thought that a bear in a trilby was responsible for us necking cans on a Saturday night.

Don’t get me wrong, I think measures should be introduced to stem the flow of teenagers in A&E on a Saturday night suffering from alcohol-related injuries, but an outright ban on booze seems to be an all-too-simple headline-grabbing suggestion.

The Hofmeister Bear – for those who don’t remember

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