The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (“The College”) is emphasising that the regulation of alcohol advertising and promotion- subject to a current Scottish Government consultation  which ends in less than a week’s time on March 9th- offers a real opportunity to help protect children and young people from alcohol-related harm.

A 2019 survey found that more than 80% of 11-17-year-olds reported having seen alcohol advertising in the last month[i].

The College is again calling on the health community and others interested in tackling the negative health effects of alcohol in Scotland to respond to the consultation and give their views before it closes.

Professor Andrew Elder, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said:

 There is a substantial body of evidence demonstrating the impact alcohol advertising and promotion has on children and young people. Young people too often feel pressured into drinking at a young age and heavy marketing of alcohol products plays a major part in that. At a recent seminar on the topic I learned of nine year olds who are easily able to recognise a variety of brands of spirits from the shape of the bottle – that suggests high levels of exposure.

Research shows that alcohol marketing leads many young people to start drinking earlier, to drink more if they are already drinking, and to drink at heavy or problematic levels. This must be considered an urgent public health concern given the widespread acceptance of the seriousness of the health conditions, both mental and physical, that alcohol can lead to in young people, as well as the wider population. Relationships with alcohol established in adolescence can lead to lifetime patterns of alcohol misuse with all the associated health issues that can result.

We support the introduction of comprehensive statutory restrictions on the promotion of alcohol products- as have been introduced successfully in other countries- and urge all those with an interest in reducing alcohol harms to have their say before March 9th. This regulation is a real opportunity to help protect Scotland’s children and young people, who are especially susceptible to widespread alcohol marketing, and to improve public health going forward.


[i] Youth Alcohol Policy Survey (2019). Online survey carried out by YouGov Plc. for Cancer Research UK between September and November 2019. Total sample size was 2,603 young people aged 11-17 living in the UK. The figures have been weighted and are representative of 11-19-year olds in the UK by age, gender, ethnicity, region and Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) deciles. 


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