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Expert says ban all alcohol ads

Friday, 23 February 2007

A leading doctor says all advertising of alcohol must be banned in a bid to curb Britain's growing drink problem.

The comments by the head of the Royal College of Physicians come as latest data show alcohol-related deaths in the UK have doubled in the past 15 years.

Professor Ian Gilmore said the measure was necessary to protect children who were influenced by sporting heroes wearing branded clothing.

Government said it was already introducing measures to help.

Professor Gilmore suggested a phased ban.

"I think it would be hard to move to a total advertising ban straight away, but we can work towards it.

"Most urgently we should look at introducing a watershed, with a move towards a complete ban."

He said it made no sense to have a watershed for promoting unhealthy foods to children but then allow alcohol advertising during the day.

Wrong messages

Professor Gilmore said he had recently watched a football match on satellite television which had shown four alcohol advertisements over the course of a lunchtime.

He suggested advertising within sporting events could be particularly influential upon children. He explained that how his nine-year-old nephew had a Liverpool shirt with the Carlsberg logo on it.

He also said drink was too cheap to buy in supermarkets and called for higher taxes on alcohol.

"We really are quite liberal in comparison with many countries.

"I'm not teetotal and we are not calling for prohibition. But we want to see some evidence-based strategies to see a reduction in the alcohol-related harm which we see in our hospitals," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: "We are concerned about the number of alcohol-related deaths and are committed to tackling this problem."

She said they had recently launched a high-profile responsible drinking campaign, Know Your Limits, aimed at 18 to 24-year-olds.

"We are also working closely with alcohol drinks industry and non-industry stakeholders on promoting more responsible drinking and preventing alcohol misuse."

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