Drink industry adverts are making children view alcohol as positive, report warns
Exposure to alcohol marketing is making Scots children take up drinking, a leading charity has claimed.
“Unacceptably high levels" of marketing via sports sponsorship and public adverts, means children are being exposed to alcohol like never before, a report from Alcohol Focus Scotland (AFS) warns.
The charity is calling on the Scottish Government to take action.
A raft of recommendations is being put forward by AFS including a ban on alcohol adverts in streets, sports grounds and public transport, a ban on alcohol sponsorship of sport, music and cultural events, and restrictions on adverts in newspapers and on social media.
It is also calling on the UK government to restrict TV alcohol advertising between 6pm and 11pm and cinema advertising to 18 certificate films.
AFS chief executive Alison Douglas said: "An alcohol-free childhood is the healthiest and best option, yet we allow alcohol companies to reach our children from a young age.
"They are seeing and hearing positive messages about alcohol when waiting for the school bus, watching the football, at the cinema or using social media.
"We hope ministers will respond to this report and the groundswell of support for effective alcohol marketing restrictions in Scotland."
The Scottish Government wants a minimum-unit price for alcohol but the move has been delayed by a legal challenge.
Aileen Campbell, the minister for public health and sport, said: "This is an interesting contribution to the debate on alcohol policy in Scotland and we will consider it carefully.
They are seeing and hearing positive messages about alcohol when waiting for the school bus - Alison Douglas
"We've been clear that more should be done to protect children from unsuitable advertising. However, the regime governing broadcast advertising is reserved to Westminster and as a result we have pressed the UK government on this issue."
Julie Hesketh-Laird, acting chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, responded by saying the Scotch whisky industry is "rightly proud of its long-running and significant financial support of a diverse range of community and national sporting and cultural events, from local Highland games, to literary awards and live music."
She added: "Many events, and related jobs across the country, would not exist without industry sponsorship and the subsequent benefits to our economy and society, as well as Scottish tourism, would be lost.
"Through a combination of existing regulation and a robust industry-wide code of practice, there is already a strong framework in place to ensure the responsible marketing and advertising of our national drink, with the industry taking its responsibilities seriously."