Alcohol – BMA gives a flawed diagnosis and dangerous prescription

Yesterday the BMA issued a report on the effects of alcohol marketing on young people. The report is flawed on two fronts.

  1. Studies that show that strong marketing for individual products is successful does not mean that this affects the overall level of drinking by young people. The BBC’s example of the highly successful Magner’s cider campaign is a case in point. The brand is a premium brand, costing around double the price of the cheapest cider per unit of alcohol. Neither would the arty and atmospheric advertising seem aimed at the youngest. It is more likely aimed at those in the late 20s and 30s who might have drunk the cheaper ciders, but are now looking for something more aspirational.
  2. An analysis of the overall data for the last century reveals alcohol consumption more than halved in Britain from 1900 to the mid 1930s. It may have been exacerbated by the First World War, but this drop was mostly due to a cultural change. Brought on by the rise of the temperance movement, the social acceptability of alcohol consumption changed. Consumption rose with the decline of the church and the liberality of the 1960s.

The current belief in bombarding young people with the dangers of alcohol and banning alcohol advertising will do little to change this. What will change this attitude is something that changes the view that the best way to have a good time is to get so drunk that you cannot remember the experience.

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