Advertising ban won’t change drinking habits

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Alcohol Concern, it appears, want to ban all advertising and sponsorship for alcoholic drinks.

I do not for one second doubt their sentiments or some of their research.

But here we have someone else wanting to ban freedom of speech for the companies involved and freedom of thought for the individual person.

And that is one of the reasons I cannot support their efforts.

Advertising for cigarettes, cigars and tobacco has been banned for many years, sponsorship followed suit.

Fewer people smoke than they used to, but that cannot purely be down to the fact the Marlboro Man is no longer being cool on giant billboards or Mr Lambert and Mr Butler are no longer “posh” people on our television screens.

Surely that drop in smokers is down to better public awareness of the perils of smoking tobacco and the raising of the legal age for buying such products.

I firmly believe such habits as drinking and smoking are down to more cultural indoctrinations than can ever be laid at the doors of the legitimate advertiser.

Most of the people I know who smoke come from families who smoked.

Most of the people I know who drink alcohol were brought up in families were drinking was part of life, but not necessarily a detrimental one.

Similarly, the people I have come across with serious drink problems come from families with a heavy drinking culture.

Can that be tackled by banning advertising for wines, beers and spirits?

I doubt it very much.

As a case in point I will refer you to a good friend of mine who used to teach at a school in Burnley.

He was aware one afternoon that one of his secondary school-age pupils was, to say the least, under the influence.

He tackled the pupil and asked him if he had been drinking and where he had got it from.

The answers were “yes” and “out of the fridge”.

And that type of family culture is surely the problem.